Right off the bat, I didn’t understand the need to add another Michael Moore documentary to the list. The other two that have made it, I’ve basically had almost identical reviews for, so to add another one seemed like a redundant prospect for me. Sure, Bowling for Columbine was technically the film that got Moore breakthrough status as a documentarian in Hollywood, right before he exploded further with Fahrenheit 9/11, and sure, Moore ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary for this one. But Moore still comes off as a one-trick pony, even despite (and partially because of) the effectiveness of his methods. Still, like I have in the past, I will give Moore one thing if any: his films are easily entertaining.
If it weren’t apparent by the title, here Moore takes on the mental state of America and Americans that, he argues, led to the Columbine High School massacre; the position of gun control by both the NRA and their opponents, the relentless dispersement of violence in the news media, and the general attitude of Americans towards these issues compared to the attitudes of people from other countries. The typical Moore touches are here; the stunts used to ostensibly prove a point (including one that actually gets a response bigger than what Moore had expected, in a good way), the presentation of one side of the argument as the only correct side, etc. I did enjoy the segmented fashion of Moore’s presentation; it kept everything flowing forward and made the film very watchable, as opposed to focusing so much on the issue that all we get is two hours of the same thing. I will say, though, there was also a segment in the latter half of the film that had Moore revisiting much of the same material he used in Roger & Me; that of the poor and affected blue-collar population of Moore’s hometown of Flint, MI and surrounding communities. Even though Moore tried to tie it into his general thesis on gun and violence problems in America, it seemed a little too far of a tangent, especially one that Moore had already covered.
I had to admit; it was a segment in the middle of the film where Moore compares living in Canada to living in the United States that had me buying into Moore’s argument almost unequivocally, which given that it’s Moore, I always try and take his filmed arguments with a heaping pile of salt. So yes, to say that Moore is not effective at what he does is to be, frankly, incorrect. But you’ve known this for some time now, either through my reviews or otherwise; I went into this expecting another entertaining albeit skewed documentary from Moore, and that’s exactly what I got. The topics may be different (if just slightly), but he does pump out the same sort of film every couple of years or so. Granted, I won’t begrudge him for doing so, since what he does works so well for him. But it doesn’t warrant three spots on the list, even if you consider the technicality of removing one of his previous films to add this one.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10