Rating: 4 out of 5
Moore's latest filmed essay is another raucously entertaining trawl through the darker side of America. Of course it's one-sided, as we expect with Moore, but it's also looking at a hugely important subject that naysayers dismiss without even a second thought. So is Moore preaching to the choir?
His topic this time is pretty clear from the title, and over the course of the film he combines history with current stories. At the core is the theory of capitalism, a system of free enterprise, competition, profit and demand, the ultimate democracy. But the truth is actually the opposite, because democracy is about equality, not a society in which the top 1 per cent has more wealth than the other 99 per cent put together. And the obvious question is why the richest nation on earth doesn't offer health care, higher education, pensions or even enough vacation time to its citizens, while other developed countries have all of these things and more.
To make his point, Moore compares today's society with ancient Rome (facade of wealth obscuring political corruption) and contrasts it with American life in the 50s and 60s (when families could thrive on a single income). After Reagan let Wall Street run wild and free, short-term profits started taking precedence over the wellbeing of employees, which is great for executives but no one else.
The central question is why we are so obsessed with getting rich. Less than 100 years ago Jonas Salk gave away the polio vaccine for free so it would reach the most people. Can we imagine any pharmaceutical company doing anything like that today?
In other words, the free market has provided the opposite of the promised human dignity and social justice. And it's even more shocking in the day of bailouts and fear-driven wars. Moore gets a bit bogged down in telling (admittedly compelling) sob stories about heavy-handed home evictions and "dead peasant" insurance claims. And he reserves his strongest criticism for the media's misleading headlines about the dangers of socialism, when it's actually capitalism that leads to greed, exploitation and corporate failure, as current events prove.
Moore assembles this with skill and insight. It may be one-sided, but what's the other side? The fact is that profit-seeking is not good for society. Church leaders are lying when they say Jesus was a capitalist. And America's founding fathers were actually striving for fair socialism, not capitalism, which they spoke out against. But the brainwashed right will ever listen to Michael Moore, so while this film makes liberals happy that these things have finally been said out loud, it won't make any difference.
Facts and Figures
Run time: 127 mins
In Theaters: Friday 2nd October 2009
Box Office USA: $14.3M
Distributed by: Overture Films
Production compaines: The Weinstein Company, Paramount Vantage
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 133 Rotten: 45
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Cast & Crew
Director: Michael Moore
Producer: Michael Moore, Anne Moore
Screenwriter: Michael Moore
Starring: Michael Moore as Michael Moore, Thora Birch as Herself, William Black as Himself, Elijah Cummings as Himself, Baron Hill as Himself, Marcy Kaptur as Herself, Wallace Shawn as Himself, Elizabeth Warren as Herself, Peter Zalewski as Himself
Also starring: Bernie Sanders