I doubt there’s a more “love him or hate him” filmmaker than Michael Moore, and for good reason. As it turns out, he’s been doing his shtick since his debut documentary, Roger & Me; seriously, watching it now, it hasn’t changed at all. If that means you’re not a fan of Moore based on how he is as a filmmaker, then it’s not gonna really matter what era or decade of his filmmaking you decide to cover; it’s all the same, just about different topics, and even then slightly different. The topic this time is the town (Moore’s hometown) of Flint, Michigan, and how the town is reeling after the lifeblood of its economy and jobs market, the General Motors plants, are closed permanently. Sound right up Moore’s alley? You betcha.
What the film ostensibly tell us it is about is Moore’s quest to get an interview with the CEO of General Motors, Roger B. Smith, about the factory closings in Flint, and along the way we take a look at how the town has suffered since the loss of its primary source of income. To say that that’s not what this film is really about would be telling a lie, but the film’s synopsis of itself is also only a half-truth, as anybody who’s even remotely familiar with Moore is aware. This is largely a vehicle for Moore to sell his philosophy on the topic at hand, as well as for him to pull little stunts to both highlight the black humor of the situation and to draw additional attention to himself in his endeavors. But, when the result is this effective, can you really blame him for basically making that his modus operandi? One thing is undeniable; Moore is effective at what he does. Still, I couldn’t help but be a little miffed that we were only getting Moore’s version of the story, a single side of the coin, and, us being the audience, we implicitly make the understanding that this is the neutral, consensus viewpoint, pretty much solely on the fact that Moore touts himself as a documentarian, when he really isn’t. I said it in my Fahrenheit 9/11 review, and I’ll say it here (and likely for the other Moore film to make the 10th edition): Moore is primarily a storyteller, not a historian. Sure, the story is affecting and tragic, and we come to agree with Moore’s views on the subject, but that’s because his film is designed with only that outcome being possible coming out on the other side of watching it.
I really don’t know if I can say I like or hate Michael Moore. I know I don’t hate him, but I can’t really say I like him, since the only views on his thoughts and beliefs are coming from either the biased source of his haters, or from the extremely biased source of Moore himself, who seems incapable of remaining on the fence about a topic. I guess that’s why I seem to be coming up right in the middle on the films of his I’ve seen, and it makes me a little miffed that the editors of the Book saw fit to add another of his works to the new edition, since I already know that’s where I’ll end up on that one as well. I can’t even come up with a good way to recommend this one (or not); you already know where you stand with Moore, and that is largely why you will either see or not see this one. All I can say is; whatever your preconceptions are on Moore’s stance with this subject, you’re probably right on the money.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10