The Informant!

Release date: Sept. 18

Distrib: Warner Bros.

Blending the Midwestern caricatures of “Fargo” with the whistle-blowing intrigue of “The Insider,” director Steven Soderbergh’s latest film manages to earn its exclamation point (in the original title card) by goosing a true story with some good-natured satire.

Viewed from one angle, the film’s as riotous a workplace comedy as “Office Space,” skewering the system of sleep-walking wage earners in which Mark Whitacre was able to expose and exploit a massive price-fixing conspiracy. At the same time, it’s a conman tale as twisty as “Catch Me if You Can” — no easy feat for a nonfiction adaptation.

The entire operation hinges on a performance by a paunchy Matt Damon, who donned a prosthetic nose (hey, it worked for Nicole Kidman in “The Hours”) and gained 30 pounds (didn’t hurt Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull”) for the part, with special agent Scott Bakula delivering key straight-man support.

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