Michael Moore as Himself
Directed by Michael Moore
“Capitalism: A Love Story” isn’t Michael Moore’s strongest or most focused film but the subject matter is still an important one and his ability to deliver hard facts in a light and entertaining way is still the filmmaker’s strongest suit.
Filmmaker Michael Moore takes a look at the economic collapse of 2008 and how that has affected various people around the country, some who have lost their jobs and homes and others who have profited from their losses.
Time and time again, Michael Moore has come forward as the man of the people, fighting the corporations in the name of the working class–and often taking flack for being too liberal in the process. As we watch his latest attempt at taking on corporate interests, we’re often reminded of Moore’s debut “Roger and Me,” with actual scenes from the 20-year-old film to show how what was happening to Flint, Michigan in the late ’80s is now affecting the rest of the country.
The idea behind Moore’s documentary is that America’s love of capitalism, of owning unnecessary belongings, as well as general corporate greed, has helped lead to the current situation and much of the film builds on the idea of the working class revolting against the corporations and taking control. To some, this might seem like a pipe dream, although at least in one example, it actually gets results.
The movie covers some of the same territory as the recent “American Casino” in terms of showing how people have been affected by the economic crash, losing jobs and homes, as well as the excellent “I.O.U.S.A,” yet it’s handled very much in Michael Moore’s inimitable style, visiting and interviewing regular people and getting them to open up to him, often offering a shoulder to cry on as he tries to help them figure out what happened.
While it might not be Moore’s most focused film, as it jumps around between different topics, more like his television shows of the ’90s, where Moore excels is delving deep into his investigation to find rarities like the never-before-seen footage of Teddy Roosevelt suggesting a second bill of rights for the American people, something that was never instituted, even as the people of Germany and Japan got many of these rights after WWII. That is the sort of irony on which Moore thrives.
Through his investigations, Moore also discovers how people in important positions are being underpaid for their services. For instance, did you realize that most regional airline pilots make less than the managers of fast food restaurants? It’s scary to think that your very life might be in the hands of someone who has to work two or three jobs in order to survive, and that’s just one of the many corporate injustices Moore uncovers, which keeps the movie from turning into a boring talking heads movie.
After sharing a number of stories, Moore starts to do his usual shenanigans where he shows up on Wall Street and confronts the companies who have stolen millions from people, trying to get their money back. Having originated this sort of ambush filmmaking, it’s come to be expected in his movies, although following in the footsteps of Sacha Baron Cohen’s more outrageous tactics, it’s just not as funny when Moore does it these days.
Sure, one could say that “Capitalism”–like Moore’s previous movies–offers few real solutions, instead spending much of it time providing information in an entertaining way, rather than fixing the problems. As good as Moore is at finding people to cry on cue and make people laugh with his antics, once the film is done, you’ll probably feel somewhat uplifted or enlightened, but it only lasts until you realize there isn’t much hope for the problem being solved soon.
The Bottom Line:
If you’re a fan of Michael Moore’s previous work, you should be able to appreciate what he does with this serious subject matter, while still keeping the movie entertaining and even funny. Just don’t go into the movie expecting to come out with a lot of answers, because “Capitalism: A Love Story” is more about exposing information in hopes the viewer will stick through the credits in order to learn how to act upon it.