What is wrong with America? While we pride ourselves on how great this country is, the murder rate by guns is hundreds of times more than most other countries combined. I am an American and I love my country, but I do not love the gun-crazy ideologies that much of the country supports. Leave it to documentary filmmaker Michael Moore to present a harsh but surprisingly [somewhat] unbiased view of the gun debate, and the issues that lead up to such massacres as the Columbine shootings.
"Bowling for Columbine" follows Michael Moore throughout the country as he investigates why America is so infatuated with guns that are relatively useless, and why so many people are killed each year with them. The movie stars out on a comical note, introducing us to a bank that gives out free rifles for creating an account. If that isn't absurd enough, we meet plenty of people from all kinds of lifestyles (a lot of hicks, of course) that love their guns, yet obviously have thought very little about why they need one, other than the fact that guns are supposedly protected by the Second Amendment (I say 'supposedly' because guns and individuals are both left out of the wording). More comedy ensues in the unlikeliest of places when Moore interviews the brother of John Nichols, the man who was sentenced to life for the Oklahoma City bombing, who shows just how off the rocker he is (he puts a gun to his head for the hell of it, and then at another time says that everyone needs to watch out for "whackos").
Yes, "Bowling for Columbine" is a very funny movie. Though the footage is selective, of course, Moore shows just how ridiculous some of these gun-loving people are. Some of the things these people are so hilarious you can't help but laugh - and they honestly believe this stuff. Obviously, if you haven't guessed by now, I am very much in favor of more gun control (especially handguns), but even those who do own a gun will take delight in some of the stuff that goes on in this movie.
However, even though "Bowling for Columbine" has many funny sequences, enough so to be considered a comedy in many lights, it has many serious, hair-tingling moments as well. Moore includes footage of the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center, of people running in the streets, of security tapes showing the Columbine shooters throwing bombs and firing guns, of the many deadly wars that have raged on due to the United States, of the racism and fear caused by the media, and of much more. The reality of this footage is frightening, and Moore has created a masterpiece around it.
His "assault" on Charlton Heston is absolutely mesmerizing. Here, Heston, an American hero by some standards and the current president of the NRA, reveals his true side. He is a crackpot, a racist, naive asshole that doesn't have the sensitivity of napalm. And he runs the most powerful private organization in the United States.
"Bowling for Columbine" should be showed in every high school - every junior high. It is entertaining, but it is also very educational; it reveals a side of United States history that is still going on today that will not appear in textbooks for decades, if ever. Moore never goes as far to say that gun control should be heightened - he is, after all, a moderate member of the NRA - but gives plenty of proof that we have more serious issues at hand that needing to attack Iraq.
Is this the time to be criticizing the United States? Why not? The true Americans are the ones smart enough to realize when something is wrong, and figure out what to do about it. Michael Moore has pointed out what is wrong; the rest of us need to react.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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