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Review: Bowling for Columbine

I was going to wait until next week to share any more reviews but after being asked here about my thoughts on Moore, I thought I’d post this one too.

In a nutshell, I think this is a great documentary and Michael Moore is a talented director and editor. My quibble – especially after reading not just the reviews but also sifting through the anti-Moore web sites – is that he plays a little too fast and loose with the facts. And the more factual errors that are made the less credible the rest of the movie is.

I’m talking here about errors/omissions he’s copped to – such as implying that Charleton Heston and the NRA went to Flint “soon” after a shooting when it was actually eight months later, at a time when lots of political groups came to town – and not the ones still in dispute.

Overall Moore does a good job of providing an educational, entertaining movie but it’s hard to tell when the factual part ends and the fun part begins. He wrestles with a good legitimite question: Why is American society more violent than that of other nations? He shoots down some of the usual theories, using statistics which critics question. The main answer he seems to suggest is that violence is caused by fear generated by the news media. TV news about bloodshed makes people more likely to be violent themselves.

There’s one big problem with that theory though – the level of violent crime in America has dropped in recent years at the same time that media coverage of violent crime – especially school shootings – is up. Despite those quibbles, I give this ambitious movie an 8. He may be sloppy, but he’s good.

Memorable movie quotes:

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Chris Rock: You don’t need no gun control. You know what you need? Bullet control. I think all bullets should cost $5000. You know why? If a bullet cost $5000 there’d be no more innocent bystanders.
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Michael Moore: If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?

Marilyn Manson: I wouldn’t say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say and that’s what no one did.
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There is something very wrong when Manson sounds more intelligent in that sound bite than most politicians.

The movie was the formerly highest-grossing documentary of all time. The highest-grossing documentary is now Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), also by Michael Moore, which made more in its opening weekend than this movie did in its entire run.

Moore has his share of critics, including this site devoted to criticizing his movies. While documentaries are traditionally made by liberals, three anti-Moore documentaries have been made: Michael Moore Hates America, Fahrenhype 9/11 and *Celsius 41/11: The Temperature at Which the Brain…Begins to Die.*

I might check out those movies sometime but meanwhile the irony is he’s laughing all the way to the bank. But it’s probably not the bank in the movie where you get the free guns.

Ed/Pub:LM

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin.He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one.He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle.He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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