Review: Bowling for Columbine

The French went crazy for it, if only because Michel Moore makes it entirely too easy for the world to laugh at America's troubles with the gun.

Bowling for Columbine
Photo: United Artists

Michael “Stupid White Man” Moore's Bowling for Columbine may be more Great White Hype than Great White Hope though it's considerably less contemptuous than his Flint vs. General Motors exposé Roger & Me. The French went crazy for Columbine (it was the first documentary accepted into competition at Cannes in 46 years) if only because Moore makes it entirely too easy for the world to laugh at America's troubles with the gun. Moore's beef, in easy terms: If Germany and Japan also have Marilyn Manson and violent video games then why are Americans the only ones killing themselves with their guns? This gun-control tirade is broad, not necessarily because Moore doesn't know where to place the blame but because he knows everyone is responsible to some degree. More so than our trigger-happy politicians, the media bears the brunt of Moore's brave steed. Though violent crime in America has gone down by 20% in the past few years, coverage of that crime in the media rose by an alarming 600%. Bowling for Columbine is seemingly pieced together from similar facts that implicate our “culture of fear.” This is the film's most convincing argument, and while Moore's thesis is beautifully put together (watch how he brings it all back to weapons manufacturer and welfare-for-work champion Lockheed Martin), it still has the overall feel of a Hard Copy exposé (big fonts, quick-fire montages, celebrity smackdowns). Then again, anyone who's read Moore's Stupid White Men knows that the author/filmmaker readily admits that he is a product of the very consumer culture that feeds on shows such as Cops and South Park. If all roads in Nick Broomfield's Biggie & Tupac led to Suge Knight, all roads here lead to Charlton Heston. There's no excuse for Moore's frequent self-aggrandizment and shrill sanctimoniousness, but he does manage to put the Man in his place.

 Cast: Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Dick Clark, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson, John Nichols, Matt Stone  Director: Michael Moore  Screenwriter: Michael Moore  Distributor: United Artists  Running Time: 120 min  Rating: R  Year: 2002  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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