Expelled lacks focus

By Gus Bode

“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”

Rated: PG

Starring: Ben Stein


Directed by Nathan Frankowski

Runtime: 90 min.

1.5 out of 5 stars

For anyone who has ever had the unfortunate task of viewing the ultra-hairy man who doesn’t realize he probably shouldn’t be in a Speedo at the beach, evolution might not be a difficult theory in which to believe.

But for those who have a different take on how life on Earth came to be, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” attempts to support academic freedom for discussion on both theories of evolution and intelligent design in the classroom as well as the scientific world.

“Expelled,” helmed by the hilariously flat-voiced Ben Stein, fails as a cohesive documentary supporting the topic of academic freedom and instead demonizes evolution and those who believe in it.

The documentary starts out focused, comparing the rift in the scientific community between evolution and intelligent design to the Berlin Wall, saying that neither side will speak to each other or examine the other’s ideas. Stein narrates and airs his fears of the suppression of intelligent design, causing America to lose its freedom to explore and discover.


It does a good job of comparing the two theories and explaining them. Evolution, for the purposes of this film, relies on mutations and natural selection, a process where species are better suited to survive than others and thus flourish. Intelligent design has its creationist stigma peeled away and is viewed as a theory that looks beyond undirected processes, such as natural selection, and credit an outside source that causes a species to survive.

From there, the film turns into an open attack on believers of evolution, more often showing them as deity-hating, insult-hurling, life-devaluing, hopeless meanies rather than people who ardently believe in one theory rather than the other. In this, intelligent designers become martyrs for their cause, seen as the outcasts who hold the key to understanding all life, but just can’t overcome the beatings from the cruel evolutionaries.

Instead of sticking to the central idea of academic freedom, “Expelled” too often takes time out to show what evils believing in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution might have caused. With a jaunt to Dachau, a concentration camp during World War II, “Expelled” takes a 20-minute trip into unnecessary territory, using the horrible tragedy of the Holocaust as ammunition for intelligent design by crediting belief in Darwinism for genocide.

The film also backhandedly insults those who are believers in evolution by airing in several interviews intelligent design proponents’ beliefs that evolution devalues human life and makes abortion and euthanasia “easier.” Nothing makes life-altering decisions easy and the thought that a belief in a theory could somehow cause a loss of morality and conscience is insulting at best.

At its core, “Expelled” is not a terrible film. It does what any good documentary should do – make viewers willing to explore their beliefs and research topics to better form opinions. And “Expelled” does have a noble cause of encouraging academic freedom, even if little science is included in the film to support the idea of intelligent design.

There’s enough humor in the film from Stein’s commentary to keep it from being too heavy-handed, but in the end it’s just too misguided and scattered to really support the central topic of establishing open discussion for all theories of life in academic arenas.

Alicia Wade can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].