Moore back to grandstanding ways

Capitalism: A Love Story (PG-13)


3 stars out of 4

By Michael Clark

Movie Critic

If filmmaker Michael Moore didn't make it so obvious that he is such a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, we might be able to take his documentaries more seriously. For every two parts of truth found in Moore's movies, he includes one part conjecture and another of histrionic grandstanding. He's his own worst enemy.

Moore is many things: a slovenly provocateur, limousine liberal and a de facto socialist, but one thing he isn't is boring. He has a wickedly perverse and topical sense of humor and even if you don't agree with his politics, you'll almost have to concede that his films are fun to watch. Like his less abrasive contemporary Errol Morris, Moore realizes the principal mission of every movie - even documentaries - is to entertain.

Moore never fails to deliver on that end.

Moore also knows it's best to strike when the iron is hot. Like all of his movies, "Capitalism" fans the flames of current discontent and presses all of the red-hot buttons designed to whip up audience anger and throbbing indignation.

The best example of Moore's tunnel-vision approach is made in the opening scenes where two Illinois families are being evicted from their homes. Plenty of time is spent chastising the banks, law enforcement and repo men involved in the foreclosure process, yet next to nothing is mentioned about how the families arrived at these financial crossroads. At least one of them owned their home outright, so how could it be possible that they defaulted on their mortgage?

These and other similarly balancing details are glossed over and brushed aside by Moore throughout the film. We know immediately this movie will never get close to being fair, unbiased or fully truthful.

No one with a modicum of common sense could disagree that there were many factors that led to the current global economic meltdown, but Moore is only interested in skinning the fat cats and his principal targets are the nation's banks, Wall Street and George W. Bush. At one point Moore goes as far as to suggest that Hurricane Katrina (the event, not the aftermath) was a carefully orchestrated conspiracy designed to rid New Orleans of its low income residents.

Moore waits until well into the film's last act to deliver his biggest surprise and it's a whopper. Finally moving on from Bush, Moore directs his ire at former members of the Clinton administration, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Christopher Dodd and Barack Obama and their not-so-favorable associations with various financial firms and their lobbyists. During this segment, Moore reveals he is actually capable of objectivity and it is amazingly refreshing.

As is often the case, Moore negates his better efforts by engaging in a series of grandiose money shots toward the end that make him look like a petulant fifth-grader screaming for attention. It comes as no surprise but is still embarrassing to watch and diminishes his desired impact.

By the time the movie is over, it's clear Moore can't correctly define the word "capitalism" if his life depended on it. He's lucky to live in a country that allows him the ability to make scads of money while also tearing down the very system that permits him to do so. Moore doesn't know how blessed he is. (Overture)