Review Date: May 17, 2004
Director: Michael Moore
Writer: Michael Moore
Producers: Michael Moore
George W. Bush
Politics and crookedness certainly do go hand-in-hand from time to time, but when a subject matter as important as an actual war against another country, in which the lives of every day freedom-loving Americans are put to risk (and innocent foreign civilians, of course) at the whim of a man who seems to have about as many conflicts of interest in the war, than anyone ever had any conflicts of interests in anything...you really have to wonder hard about the theory that places fire where there is lots and lots of smoke. And Mr. George W. Bush...is burning up! As per COLUMBINE, Moore uses his narration to take us through a variety of his findings beginning with the debacle that turned out to be the 2000 election in the first place, to the relationship between Bush and the Bin Laden clan before he became President, the suspicious way the FBI decided to fly the entire American contingent of the Bin Laden family out of States two days after 9/11 without even holding any of them for questioning (wouldn't it have made sense to, at the very least, have asked them a couple of questions about their crazy uncle/brother?), as well as the relationship between the Saudis, the Bushes and oil. We also get plenty of actual footage from inside Iraq (included an entire sequence that follows a U.S. troupe's Christmas eve interrogation of a seemingly unsuspicious Iraqi family), as well as humiliations that some of the U.S. soldiers cause onto certain Iraqi detainees. Most of the footage also gives you the impression that many of the soldiers, sadly, do not even seem to know what they're doing there, are receiving mixed messages and can't understand why everyone is so pissed off at them (here's a clue: your President is an asshole).
Moore also continues to relate how the rich in America are continually making the major decisions for their country, while the poor, underprivileged (many of them, black), end up with the brunt of the actual actions. Unlike his previous documentaries, this one doesn't feature any memorable trademark Moore one-on-one confrontations, but does have one nearing the end which has Moore roaming the streets of Washington, attempting to get congressmen to sign one of their own children up for the war-only one of the 550+ congressmen actually has a child in the service (funny how that works). Moore brings up a myriad of valid and inexplicable reasons why Bush did what he did and continues to do what he does, and once again, relates much of it to an "environment of fear" that's built up in the States via the media, a theory that I believe in myself. This documentary didn't touch me as much as his previous one did, and wasn't as "entertaining" either, but those elements weren't at the top of its list this time around. I didn't think Moore needed to take the few cheap shots that he did take a Bush though (although granted, they were humorous), like the emphasis on the fact that he took a lot of "vacation time" as President, since I didn't really see how one's laziness would equate them to being "a bad person" per se. I also would have preferred he leave juvenile stuff like showcasing politicians preparing for their interviews before a camera out of his documentaries, since everyone's always nervous at that point, so it's unfair to make insinuations about anything they do or say at that time. You've got enough valid points in the film, Michael...don't turn your target into a "clown", because we're likely not to take his legitimately unconscionable decision-making process as seriously, if you do.
But overall, FAHRENHEIT 9/11 seems like a growth for Moore with a lot less emphasis on himself (I think you only see him twice in the entire film), a lot less emphasis on set-ups, prodding tactics and eye-catching video (although we do get a couple of graphic bits, including some stuff of the U.S. soldiers in Iraq), and a lot more emphasis on facts, figures, quotes and actual footage from real events that help back his case. As I said back in 2002 for BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, I will say again for this film: if there is one movie that you will see this year, make sure that it's FAHRENHEIT 9/11. Considering that the American nation is being asked to pick a new President this coming fall (trust me, I don't think Kerry is "all that" either, but if Bush is actually voted back in, I seriously suspect that the world will be in much greater danger in the years to come), this film could not come out at a more opportune time. Please watch this movie with your teenage kids, show it in your schools and make sure that you sit down in communities and watch it together and then discuss its various implications afterwards. You may not agree with everything that Michael Moore or his film is saying, but you cannot deny that much of what he does claim is, at the very least, oddly coincidental, or and the very worst, outrageously immoral, and that in itself, leaves much to question afterwards. One thing I do wish for future such documentaries is that other people, besides Moore, create them as well. This guy has way too much pressure on himself as the seemingly only person running around, uncovering actual news behind the news. Where are the rest of the world's great investigative news journalists? Too busy covering Michael Jackson and Lacy Petersen's disappearance, eh? C'mon guys...left, right...any sides...come out of the woodwork and create some damn insightful documentaries already! If this isn't the right time, I don't know when it ever would be.