Michael Moore's documentary against President Bush and the Iraq war.
What I Thought
This movie can be carved in two: The first half deals with Bush's link (or non-link) with Saudi Arabia, Enron, and all his business partners, and the case againts Bush himself, beginning with the 2000 Florida election results. The second half deals with the Iraq war itself and the US troops.
Disclaimer: While I will try to be as non-partisan as I can, I do tend to not agree with the current administration, to put it mildly. I thought you should know as this IS a very partisan movie and I'm sure my politics are hiding somewhere in my review.
Anyway, on to my opinion: I didn't like this movie. The primary reason is that Moore doesn't fully rely on facts and instead uses emotional methods to convey his central points against the Bush administration and against the Iraq war.
Let's take the second half of the movie first.
As you may have already heard, the second half of the movie deals with a woman who describes herself as a "conservative Democrat" with several family members in or have been in the Armed Forces. She loses her young son in a helicopter accident, and becomes an outspoken critic of the war. Interspersed with her interviews, we also see some Iraq footage complete with burning corpses, cocky young American soldiers saying stupid things, and bombings.
I'm not going to say we shouldn't see this type of stuff. Indeed, we should see MORE of what we are doing there. This is war, and it is NOT pretty and we shouldn't hide from that ugliness being done for us and in our name (unless it gets to be a form of pornography, there's a difference between being informed and reveling in blood).
However, this argument will not make me support the war or shy away from it. As I said, war (ANY war) is ugly business. So Moore's pandering to any emotional outrage at the war is disingenuous. Since the same thing can be said of the Afghanistan invasion (not to mention Japan during WWII, etc.), he misses his mark, as that country was the direct benefactor of Al Qaeda. No matter how much I sympathize with that mother, her son died doing what he was trained to do, which is being a soldier.
Moore then goes on another big fat tangent, talking about how the Armed Forces are made up primarily of kids from poor families or racial minorities. While a very interesting subject (and also quite true), it is one for a totally different movie and again has no bearing on Iraq or war in general.
Yes, he does use this as an argument against the people making the decisions in Congress. Going around to Congressmen on the street, he asks them if they would consider encouraging their kids to join and go to Iraq. So the people in Congress (except for one) don't have a familial stake, but I don't think that is a major point at all here when it comes to war in general or the Iraq war in particular. I don't hear him joining the Armed Forces either.
Now let's take the first half of the movie.
The screen is dark while you hear planes smashing into buildings. Bush looking very, umm, zombie-like (and I'm being charitable) when prepping for a TV announcement from the Oval Office. While these things will appeal to anti-Bush ("ha ha ha, LOOK how stupid he looks!"), Moore is relying on an emotional argument. Making you feel all sad about Sept 11, showing Bush not at his best, all serve to set you up for the forthcoming argument of his family's startlingly long business involvement with Saudi Arabia and the Bin Laden family. That is more where the meat is for Moore, but only after buttering you up, and as a moviegoer I resent that.
Whether or not I believe in Moore's case against Bush, I want facts rather than seeing Bush as a boob with cartoon music playing in the background. I think that is belittling the very serious message Moore seems to be telling us.
Additionally, the whole movie is very slow (especially in the first half). He throws lots of facts at us, so maybe it is so that we can absorb it all, but it is still slow.
It's also NOT funny. I've read lots of reviews and heard from several friends (one who is actually in the Armed Forces) that point out how funny this movie is, and I don't see it. Yes, I laughed one or two times, but it wasn't a "ha ha, that was funny" it was more of a "ha ha, we're in deep @#$% if half this stuff is true" laugh.
In the end, I just didn't like it. I couldn't help but think that Moore had SOOO many damning facts and decided to throw them away. My litmus test is this: I'm trying to convince my mom to vote (not for or against anyone, just to vote for whever she wants!) in the upcoming election for her first time, and I was hoping to send her to this movie to make her think "maybe I should be a little more involved." But this movie falls way flat. I walk away from the movie unsatisfied and without a well-reasoned appeal.
Bowling for Columbine was a much better movie, made its points in a more coherent manner, was funny in points, and quite sad in places. I laughed I cried, etc. But in Farenheit 9/11, not so much.
One final thing: No matter who you like in Nov 2004, PLEASE VOTE. That's one message I heartily approve.
All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.