Anthony's Film Review
Michael Moore Hates America (2004)
A documentary that analyzes another filmmaker and also provides a thoughtful, positive look on America...
Michael Moore Hates America is a documentary film that explores an opposing perspective of the populist documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. But don't let that title fool you. As incendiary as the title may sound, the film itself isn't. This is perhaps its strongest point. Michael Wilson, the writer, director, and star of MMHA, expresses his views in a very civil manner and manages to help us smile at the very end. While Wilson does use some of Moore's filmmaking techniques, namely being in front of the camera as well as behind it, Wilson avoids the cynical tone that Moore's critics may point out.
Very much like Moore wanting to interview the CEO of General Motors in his first film Roger and Me, Wilson is trying to interview Moore in MMHA. Early in the movie, Wilson makes the closest contact with Moore. When Moore stops by the University of Minnesota as part of his tour for the book Dude, Where's My Country?, Wilson stands in the audience and asks Moore if he would do a 45-minute interview with Wilson. Moore, upon learning the title of Wilson's film, argues that he loves America and that Wilson is the one hating the country.
With that, Wilson begins a rather interesting journey. Half of MMHA is dedicated to pointing out bits of Moore's films that were skewed but presented as truth. For example, Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11 asked various congressmen if they would enlist their children to go to war in Iraq very much like how poorer Americans were recruited. If you've seen that movie, you'd think that every congressman refused to answer the question. Well, Wilson interviews one congressman who supported Moore's idea and was, in fact, interviewed by Moore with that same question. However, the interview never made it into the final cut of Fahrenheit 9/11, probably because it didn't jive with Moore's argument.
Similarly, in Bowling for Columbine, Moore demonstrates how easy it is for a bank to give away a free gun after opening a new bank account. In MMHA, Wilson interviews the same people who appeared in Bowling for Columbine in that scene. They explain how Moore had come into the bank with a script in mind and how he manipulated what was captured on film. For example, one of the bank employees told Moore that a facility several miles away stored roughly 300 guns in their vault. Moore edited this to make it look as if the bank itself stored the guns.
So what does Wilson do with the rest of the movie? Interestingly enough, he interviews his own set of people, all of whom Moore never met. They include a man who passionately roasts coffee even with economic constraints, residents of an upscale community outside of Los Angeles, and a war veteran with missing arms who's glad to be in MMHA and not the biased Fahrenheit 9/11. Unlike Moore's interviews that illustrate the dark side of America, Wilson's interviews illustrate the bright side of America.
In fact, I forgot to mention one more key scene from the beginning of the movie. Wilson's father briefly talks about how life had been good for his family until he lost his job. But he never gave up, knowing that new opportunities would eventually arise and that hard work is the key to achieving the American dream. This is the take-home message of MMHA. Wilson argues that Moore wants people to think that certain people have no chance to make it in America, but in reality, anyone has a chance if they put their mind to it.
Aside from the optimistic undertones of MMHA, I appreciate the film for being able to provide counterpoints without resorting to hostility. After all, America guarantees the right to free speech in order to get multiple perspectives on the same issues. Only then can we evaluate every piece of info, determine what's true or false, and come up with our own rational conclusions about the world. I admit that I do enjoy Moore's films and that I still do even after seeing MMHA. But variety in opinion can be a good thing. That is why I also enjoyed MMHA.
For more information about Michael Moore Hates America, visit the Internet Movie Database.