Movie Reviews
9:13 am
Mon October 28, 2002

Bowling for Columbine

The film is filled with regular people making Asses of themselves about guns.

Michael Moore ("Roger & Me") knows no shame. In this funny, flawed, and ultimately important documentary about guns in America, "Bowling for Columbine," Moore's greatest moment is when he corrals poor Charlton Heston, president of the NRA, into an interview.

Moore stalks the aging, pre-Alzheimer's actor, cornering him into frustration about why he headed a rally right after a 5 year-old boy shot a companion in the same town. Heston can't ably answer; he just shuffles away to the innards of his Hollywood compound, looking old and alone. What mostly gained Moore access to Heston and credibility all around is the fact that he is a life-long NRA member.

The film is filled with regular people making Asses of themselves about guns. Very funny is the bank officer opening an account for Moore that includes a gun as a prize. Moore can barely contain his outrage that banks could be in the gun business.

Cannes accepted this film into competition, the first documentary in 46 years, and for good reason. Moore explains maybe a bit too easily America's longstanding "culture of fear" from colonial days, partly answering why its gun-murder rate is so much higher than other country's. When he rakes over giant Lockheed Martin, whose arms manufacturing juxtaposed with welfare-for-work makes it a worthy target, he is at his ironic and supercilious best.

Other interviews with Goth rocker Marilyn Manson and "South Park" creator Matt Stone help Moore's thesis that obvious icons of rebellion are much less responsible for violence in America than a K-Mart that sold ammunition used at Columbine.

Although Moore's logic is a times specious, at other times sheer demagoguery, there are instances when he is himself startled by the truth of his discoveries. For instance, when a Michigan prosecutor states that the white suburbs have more problems with guns than black urban areas, Moore confesses, "I didn't think that's what you were going to say. I thought you were going to say it was black kids in the inner city." At moments like these I forget Moore's being accused of manipulating or manufacturing interviews; I just marvel at a child-like filmmaker doing what no one else can - making unmistakably provocative films.