There’s only one thing Michael Moore likes more than talking about his home-town of Flint, Michigan, and that’s having a bash at right-wing America. The unashamedly biased critic’s latest target is capitalism itself, in all its green coloured glory. Setting your sights a bit high there Micky?
The biggest problem with this movie is that the target is too big, meaning that the searingly sharp focus of past triumphs like Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9:11 is missing, leaving instead a mangled mess of dull chatter interspersed with some home-run moments.
Moore is increasingly becoming a victim of his own success, meaning that the only people willing to talk to him on the record are people who side with him to begin with, but then impartiality was never a prerequisite of a Michael Moore documentary. Moore utilise all his old bag of tricks here to, which again are becoming old hat, the likes of interviews, case studies, archival footage and cartoons. Old targets, like the always reliable George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and other Republican luminaries all make their annual appearance too. His goal of course is to show how capitalism is ruining the lives of ordinary Americans, increasing the social divide and destroying democracy.
And some of it works, in fact some of it works very well indeed. The scenes involving the “dead peasant” insurance (basically how a company profits if a worker dies) are quite dramatic and frightening in their way, as are some of the scenes highlighting the “credit crisis”. What doesn’t work is Moore’s over-reliance on cheap stunts, like driving an armoured car around to each bank asking for the peoples money back, which begin to grate after an initial chuckle. This habit he has of going for laughs can take away some of the emphasis and realness of his arguments. Oh yeah and the Catholic priests talking about corrupt moral institutions without a hint of irony is a tad unusual.
Overall another typical Michael Moore documentary. If you’re a fan of his politics you’ll love it, if your not a fan you’ll deride it and if you’re in the middle it’s not a bad way to spend 90 odd minutes.