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Michael Moore
Michael Moore
Writing Credits:
Michael Moore

Are we a nation of gun nuts or are we just nuts?

Acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore (Roger & Me) takes aim at America's love affair with guns and violence in this Oscar-winning film that "demands attention" (People)! Mixing riveting footage, hilarious animation and candid interviews with everyone from the NRA's Charlton Heston to shock-rocker Marilyn Manson, Bowling for Columbine is a "brilliant" (The Hollywood Reporter) tour de force of filmmaking.

Box Office:
Budget: $4 million
Opening Weekend:
$209.148 thousand on 8 screens.
Domestic Gross:
$21.244 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $27.94
Release Date: 7/8/2003

Side A
• Personal Introduction by Michael Moore
• Audio Commentary with Interns and Receptionists
• Original Theatrical Trailer
Side B
• Exclusive Michael Moore Interview on His Oscar Win & Acceptance Speech
• "Return to Denver / Littleton" Featurette
• Interview with Michael Moore by Former Press Secretary Joe Lockhart
• Teacher's Guide (DVD-ROM)
• Segment from "The Awful Truth II: Corporate Cops"
• Michael Moore's "Action Guide" (DVD-ROM)
• Film Festival Scrap Book
• "The Charlie Rose Show" with Michael Moore
• Marilyn Manson's "Fight Song" Music Video
• Photo Gallery

Search Titles:

TV - Mitsubishi CS-32310 32"; Subwoofer - JBL PB12; DVD Player - Toshiba SD-4700; Receiver - Sony STR-DE845; Center - Polk Audio CS175i; Front Channels - Polk Audio; Rear Channels - Polk Audio.


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Bowling for Columbine: Special Edition (2002)

Reviewed by David Williams (August 19, 2003)

Before I begin to review Bowling for Columbine, there are a few things you might want to know about me – my beliefs, my convictions, and where I’m coming from. I am a member of the NRA and have been for quite a few years now. I own – and keep in my home – many types of firearms ranging from handguns to rifles to shotguns. The rifles and shotguns are used to hunt with (deer, duck, dove) – the handguns are for sport shooting at a local pistol range and quite simply, for home protection. I hunt – avidly. I am a member of Ducks Unlimited. I believe in the old cliché that “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”. I believe that criminals are tagged with the moniker “criminal” because they break the law and that an all-out gun ban will only serve to take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, as criminals have no intention of turning in their guns. Criminals do not follow, or abide by, any law or code of conduct – hence the name, criminal. I believe in the statistic that states 2,000,000 crimes per year are stopped because the intended victim had a firearm and used it in self-defense. I believe the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right of all Americans to own a gun and that anyone who thinks differently is perverting the framer’s original intentions. I believe that the 2nd Amendment is as important as the 1st Amendment. I believe that Michael Moore creates entertaining fiction that serves his political views – usually very left of the middle - by twisting the facts and editing certain, many times unrelated sequences, to make it seem that something was said that wasn’t … or to make it look like an event took place that didn’t. Now that you know where I stand, let’s get on with the review, shall we?

Rest assured I’m not here to be an NRA mouthpiece or tell you why you should think like I do - although I’m going to state my opinion(s) quite strongly – just as Moore does. This site isn’t a political arena and I usually don’t treat it as such, although I feel that this review is deserving of bending the rules somewhat. You should also know that the views stated in this review are mine and mine alone and should in no way, shape, or form be perceived as the views of any other contributor to this site. I’m a big boy, so if you disagree, feel free to bombard me with hate mail after it’s all said and done.

I want to start off by pointing you to a very informative website - The Truth About Bowling - that points out the many inaccuracies and shams that Bowling For Columbine perpetrates. That being said, I will not argue Moore’s main contention that America is a very violent society and guns are very dangerous in the wrong hands. However, the National Rifle Association, its millions of law-abiding members, and legally purchased firearms are far from the primary reason our society is on the slippery slope that it is and banning guns won’t solve any of core problems this film presents.

Most of you are familiar with Moore and his methods and as usual, his most recent film promotes his agenda - and his agenda only - by twisting the facts and editing context out of speeches and events. Hardly the unbiased, factual film that a documentary is supposed to be – even according to the Academy’s own rules. Moore’s statistics are wrong on many occasions – understated or overstated depending on the point Moore wants to make – and believe you me, they’re never slanted in favor of the 2nd Amendment or the NRA.

In addition to the twisted facts and heavily edited segments, Moore returns with his humorous interview segments, best remembered from Roger and Me and TV Nation, in Bowling as well. He has a knack for jamming a microphone in people’s faces and giving them enough rope to hang themselves with and the same holds true here. These moments are usually the best and the most light hearted of the film, although his interview with Charlton Heston is one of the more disgusting pieces of “journalism” I’ve ever seen.

In Moore’s defense however, he never tries to hide his agenda or his motives – he’s as unashamedly liberal as I am conservative and proud of it. Anyone expecting anything other than what Moore delivers in Bowling For Columbine must have been living on the moon for the past decade or so. If you’re a conservative shocked by what you see or hear in Bowling, might I suggest you start paying a bit more attention. I doubt many left-wingers are shocked by what they read on the NRA’s website and you shouldn’t be shocked by what you see here.

Bowling For Columbine only serves to solidify opinions, as it’s doubtful that watching it will change anyone’s one way or the other. For the gun banning crowd, Moore is doing nothing more than holding a two-hour, Oscar-winning pep rally that simply preaches to the choir. For those of us on the other side, it’s just another reason to hate Michael Moore, scoff at his fact-finding, and weather yet another storm that attempts to step all over our constitutionally guaranteed freedom to keep and bear arms.

No one denies that what happened in Littleton and Columbine was a tragedy and Moore definitely brings those painful moments back into the spotlight with his film quite effectively. However, banning guns and vilifying gun owners isn’t the answer. But, in typical Moore fashion, his film has generated a lot of controversy and that usually translates into strong numbers at the box office or the rental counter and gives him exactly what any filmmaker wants – an audience.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B+

As with most documentaries that find their way to DVD, the picture quality is all over the map, with certain segments looking much better than others. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Bowling For Columbine looks really nice in spots, but depending on the source material Moore decided to use, the quality could vary somewhat. Sharpness and detail were above average, as Moore’s handheld camera work seemed fine for the presented material and was rarely distracting or erratic.

The material presented was rarely nothing more than Moore and his interviewee(s) – or a snippet pulled from TV - and as such, the color palette throughout the film remained pretty generic and nonspecific. Bleeding and smearing weren’t an issue and colors seemed properly balanced and contrasted at all times. Black levels were just OK and allowed for decent definition and delineation throughout the film and obviously, they weren’t quite as crisp and detailed as films with much, much larger budgets.

Flaws manifested themselves in the form of flakes and flecks, as well as inconsistencies between the multiple clips used by Moore. Grain was pretty evident throughout the film and I did note a couple of instances of shimmer as well – nothing major however. Major flaws didn’t seem to mar the print and the sheer amount of minor issues and inconsistencies kept the score down a bit.

Not much to say about the image other than it served the material at hand quite well. Good job from MGM and it’s obvious they did the best with the material they were given to work with.

MGM presents Bowling For Columbine in a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfer that is as generic as they come. Through no fault of MGM, they present the material as best they can given the original source recording methods. It’s a 5.1 track that sounds like a 2.0 surround track during its best moments and like a monaural track during most others. However, Bowling For Columbine was never meant to exploit your home theater setup.

The vast majority of the film remains firmly anchored in the front surrounds and there are hardly any moments in the film that get your surrounds pumping. Rears surrounds are rarely engaged either, as the main thrust of Bowling For Columbine is dialogue and hot air – and lots of it. Through no fault of MGM, this is one of the more tame 5.1 tracks I’ve ever heard – but I appreciate the effort.

MGM hasn’t added any other spoken languages on the disc, but they have given viewers the option of English or Spanish subtitles.

On the film side of the disc, we get an Audio Commentary with interns and receptionists who worked on the film and while many other reviewers have complained that Moore wasn’t included on the track, I offer up that the film, as well as every other supplement on the disc is a Moore commentary. Believe me, after you’ve worked your way through this disc, you know where Moore stands on most political issues covered in Bowling For Columbine. The commentary provided by the participants Moore chose to include is hit or miss – there are some decent moments and some decent tidbits gleaned – but it’s all very sporadic and not quite as entertaining as it sounds. As far as comments made about the film itself, certain things are left out in the commentary, as the interns neglect to add statements like “Ohhhh … here’s the scene where we edited two or three different speeches from Charlton Heston to make it look like one speech.” or “Here’s where we cooked certain numbers and statistics to make the US look much, much worse comparatively!” or “Remember this? This is when we staged an ammunition purchase at a Canadian Wal-Mart!”, but there’s some interesting stuff included nonetheless and this is definitely worth a listen for those of you who enjoyed the film.

Flip over the disc and we get a few more supplements with the first taking place “somewhere in Michigan”. It’s here we get an Exclusive: Michael Moore on His Oscar Win & Acceptance Speech (15:29). Here, an unrepentant Moore gives us his reasoning behind the insulting and over-the-top Oscar acceptance speech he gave this year when accepting his award. Thankfully, the Academy wouldn’t release the footage of Moore’s speech, so all we’re left with is Moore at a picnic table (how fitting!) with his Oscar. He leads us through the nomination process, the lead up to the ceremony, his speech and the reasons for it, as well as the reactions he received for giving it.

As far as Moore is concerned, I don’t expect him to be repentant for his convictions – he’s more than welcome to have them and voice them – the First Amendment grants him that. Just like the Second Amendment grants me the privilege of owning a gun …

Next up we get Return to Denver/Littleton – 6 Months After the Release of Bowling For Columbine (25:05) and it’s nothing more than footage from the University of Denver in February of 2003, where Moore held an open forum on guns, violence, and other topics discussed in his “documentary”. The expected pot shots at Bush and the current administration are taken, Moore shamelessly quotes the Bible out of context and conveniently leaves out the part about lying, and regurgitates his politics one more time just in case we weren’t listening the fifty million other times he’s flapped his gums in a public forum. If you’re a Michael Moore fan, this is the masturbatory mother lode of his political manifesto.

The Film Festival Scrapbook (16:42) is a montage of footage that has Moore and his crew receiving all kinds of awards and accolades for Bowling For Columbine at Cannes, as well as the Toronto and London Film Festival(s). There are also interview snippets from press junkets included while Moore was promoting the film in various locales. Oh yeah, in a shocking turn of events, Moore offers up his thoughts on what’s wrong with America in most of the interview snippets. This is followed by a Marilyn Manson Music Video for “Fight Song”.

A Teacher’s Guide (via DVD-ROM or web links) is presented for those who want to indoctrinate school kids with lies, falsehoods, and half-truths. It’s really scary to think that some misguided teacher might actually use this crap in a classroom. With Moore’s “stamp of approval” on it, you can almost guarantee that it’s not entirely truthful material.

Following is another Moore interview entitled Michael Moore Interviewed by Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart at HBO’s US Comedy Arts Festival (21:04) and if you’ve seen any other extra on this disc, you pretty much get a rehash here, as Moore restates the same drivel we’ve heard on other supplements. The standard and requisite Reagan/Bush Sr./Bush Jr. bashing takes place and in a couple of shocking moments, #1, Moore acts like he’s not part of the “rich” / “elite” class (cough! bullcrap! cough!) and #2, Moore is actually called a journalist by Lockhart. As far as those moments are concerned, Moore’s “average Joe” bit is as tired as the day is long and as far as his journalistic credentials are concerned, Jason Blair at the “New York Times” and Stephen Glass at “The New Republic” were considered journalists too. (If you don’t know who these two are … look it up.)

MGM follows this with a Segment from “The Awful Truth II: Corporate Cops” (7:23) that takes on Harrison Research Laboratories – a lab that tested some harmful chemicals on human subjects without warning them of potential harmful side-effects. This is vintage Moore at his best from his TV show that was never really given a fair shot in my opinion. Some of this footage was used in the film and that’s why it was included here.

Next … uggh! … another interview with Moore. This time, it’s Michael Moore on “The Charlie Rose Show” (24:44). Again, if you’ve ever seen Moore, it’s “Bush is an idiot” and “Guns are bad their owners are nutbags”. Moore quotes directly from the “Liberalism For Dummies” manual and this supplement is no different than any other containing Moore in an interview situation. He rips on the President and his administration, he yaps about his conspiracy theories, and once again, claims to speak for the vast majority of Americans; just not the majority I know. To show just how smart Moore is and how “in touch” he is with the average Joe, he claims that the public outcry from the evil Bush administration will manifest itself with the Democrats will winning a majority in both houses in November (of 2002) – however, if any of you were paying attention, the Democrats suffered one of the worst mid-term defeats ever in 2002. Interesting. Maybe Moore doesn’t speak for the majority of Americans like he loves to claim so often …

The disc’s extras end with Mike’s Action Guide (DVD-ROM material that resembles the fraudulent Teacher’s Guide) and a Staff and Crew Photo Gallery.

Love him or hate him, Michael Moore is good for some controversy and an entertaining film. His “facts”, as well as his methods, have been shrouded in controversy since Roger and Me (which was picked apart bit by bit as well by more than one source) and you can rest assured that when you watch a Michael Moore film, you’re only getting one side of the story - his - and many parts of it are more than likely not factual. Even so, his “documentaries” are usually good for a chuckle or two and his subject matter is always provocative and timely. His latest, Bowling For Columbine, definitely fits that bill.

While I can’t believe I’m saying this – and I sure hate to see Moore benefit one wooden nickel for his shoddy journalism - Bowling is worth a rental at the very least. Even though the “documentary”, as well as its extras, could be relabeled “The Moore Manifesto”, it definitely provokes discussion on both sides of the gun control issue and no matter what side of the fence you’re on, there’s nothing like some intelligent and heated discussion to get the ol’ blood pumping.

The DVD is jam-packed with some great supplements and MGM has given the disc well done audio and video transfers considering what they had to work with as far as the source material was concerned. Another nice job from MGM and here’s hoping that down the road, more deserving films get this type of SE treatment.

You already know if you want this one or not … and it’s doubtful that my review, or the film itself, will sway you from whatever side of the fence you’re already on.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.588 Stars Number of Votes: 352
3 3:
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