Bowling for Columbine
Director: Michael Moore
Released: October 11, 2002
Best Documentary (won)
Here's a little fun (not really) fact about me: Bowling for Columbine is the first documentary I ever saw. I'm not just talking in the theater (because I've never seen a doc in the theater), but the first documentary I ever saw anywhere. Kinda sad considering it only came out nine years ago.
Michael Moore is a blowhard. I know it, you know it, we all know it. However, the guy knows how to make an entertaining movie (although I do question his "facts" at times). Obviously gun control is a very serious issue, but the movie is pretty funny at times. I especially love the scene at the beginning where he tries to score a free gun by signing up for a bank account and asks the teller, "Should you really be giving out free guns at a bank?" Hahaha...I have a feeling that most banks aren't giving away free guns and that particular bank is a very rare minority. At least, I hope so!
Before I saw the movie, I thought the title referred to people raising money for the victims of the Columbine school shooting by having a bowl-a-thon or something. Which seemed both stupid and kinda insensitive. But Moore explains that the killers had bowling class in the morning and attended it before they went on their rampage. However, if you've read the Dave Cullen book, you would know that's not true. Duh. So the title is stupid, confusing and untrue. But it's got panache.
The movie is about gun control (specifically in the U.S.) and that is a very B-R-O-A-D topic and Moore goes all over the place in his film. There's so much about the topic that it's very easy to get lost in the shuffle and I feel like he's trying to cover so much in a two hour movie. It would have been more interesting if he had focused his documentary on a specific subject, like school shootings. Columbine may be mentioned in the (stupid, confusing, and untrue) title, but it's a very small fraction of the film. It seemed like the late '90s had a surge of middle and high school shootings (I would know because I was in high school at the time and remember all of them) and I feel like Moore missed a huge opportunity by not interviewing (or at least attempting to) any of the students who shot up their school.
There are plenty of interviews, most of them with well-known people. He interviews Terry Nichol's brother (who is clearly not stable) who tells him he knew Timothy McVeigh and how he had an obsession with guns. He interviews Matt Stone of South Park fame who grew up in Littleton and they make it sound like he attended Columbine, but he didn't because I looked it up. He interviews Marilyn Manson because he was always (and sometimes falsely) listed as one of the artists school shooters from the late '90s listened to. The holy grail of his interviewees is Mr. NRA himself, Charleton Heston who famously held a convention in Denver, like two days after Columbine happened, which was pretty insensitive. However, I thought Moore was a little unfair on him and never seemed to give him a chance to answer his question. I don't think everyone who owns guns are evil. I'm sure for every dumb____ who decides to go on a shooting rampage, there's probably hundreds of people who own guns and are responsible.
One of the dumbest moments in the film is when he tries to get an interview with Dick Clark and let's see if I can remember how this goes: Back in 2000, a first grader brought a gun to school and shot and killed a little girl (whether intentional or not, I'm not sure). He got the gun from his uncle's house because he and his single mom were living with him and his mom was working overtime at a restaurant chain owned by Dick Clark (or something to that effect) so he was trying to reach Clark to ask him about the murder. Now, c'mon, Dick Clark had nothing to do with why the boy brought a gun to school. Maybe his stupid uncle shouldn't have left a gun lying around in the house or maybe his mother should have told him that it's not a toy. DUH!!!!!!!!!!
One of my favorite moments in the film is when Moore takes a few of the students who were injured in the Columbine massacre to the K-Mart headquarters and tells them that they wanted them to stop selling bullets because the kids he's with were injured/paralyzed by their bullets. I hate K-Mart so much so that scene made me cackle with glee because I'm evil. Of course they had to discontinue selling bullets because they're on camera and would look like the greedy and cold-hearted corporation they are if they didn't.
Entertaining movie, but only take it at face-value.