A review of “Bowling for
Columbine” by Jeanne Aufmuth
Rating: R for language
hours, 5 minutes
Michael Moore is on a mission, there’s no escaping his high-profile,
throat-grabbing tactics and fascinating statistics. In the startling, disturbing, and
laugh-out-loud funny “Columbine”, Moore explores America’s alarming
obsession with handguns, and poses the question: why is America the most
violent nation on earth?
In the name
of comprehensive research, Moore reaches out
for answers. From an intimate of Oklahoma
City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who believes it’s an
American’s responsibility to be armed. To
the survivors of the tragic shootings at Columbine High
To executives at Lockheed-Martin, the world’s largest weapons manufacturer
(coincidentally headquartered in Littleton, Colorado).
In Moore’s adept
hands, America seems like
a pretty scary place. Statistics roll across the screen, and they’re astonishing. One hundred and sixty five gun-related deaths
in the United Kingdom last year,
as opposed to over 11,000 in
the U.S. America’s covert
involvement in an historical succession of brutal bloodbaths. Security camera footage
from the Columbine massacre, among other notoriously cruel acts, is unsettling
and powerfully affecting.
may be at the expense of our shortcomings, but they’re hilarious. Moore sniffs out
some new business at Michigan’s North
County Bank, and discovers that the institution is offering a “More Bang for
Your Buck” special – a shiny new rifle with each new CD Account.
Moore is the
King of Squirm. Watch his docu-victims (eagerly lapping up their 15-minutes of
fame) slowly crumble in the hot seat as realization dawns that Moore is making
patsies of them with voyeuristic design.
Professing lifelong membership to the National Rifle Association
(truth), Moore talks his
way into NRA spokesperson Charlton Heston’s home, and cunningly rakes him over
the coals for appearing at a Flint, Michigan rally immediately
following a local elementary school handgun slaying.
Though Moore is
certainly entitled to the freedoms of his research and his reality-TV
sensibilities, one gets the sense that he’s setting out to provoke, rather than
to seek out honest answers. His scruffy,
unkempt appearance masks a persistent arrogance that compels him to belabor his
point, an exercise that augments his project with thirty superfluous minutes that
dilute a persuasive message about America’s future.