New Michael Moore film ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ features plenty of populism but not much pop.
Rated R, 120 minutes
The ending of “Fahrenheit 11/9” is so powerful and compelling that when the lights in the theater went back on, there was dead silence. No applause, just a stunned hush from an audience that had just seen an amazing piece of news footage as the denouement of op/ed director Michael Moore’s new film.
Yes, the ending of the film left the audience reeling. The problem is waiting two hours to get there.
“Fahrenheit 11/9” is an occasionally insightful, well-made, and well-intended editorial piece. The point is to get you, gentle viewer, off your duff and make sure you vote in the upcoming midterms. And maybe, just maybe, do something truly radical like run for office or get involved in some of the many positive changes going on across these United States. Support your local teacher’s strike. Work on social justice issues. Just do something, dammit. Because if you don’t, there’s no way things are never going to permanently change in America, and we’ll just continue the long, steady decline that allowed us to elect the despot-in-training known as the 45th President of the United States of America, Mr. Donald J. Trump.
Those expecting this film to be an unrelenting hatchet job on President Trump will be disappointed. Trump certainly gets skewered, but Moore spends much of the time delving into the Flint water crisis and the role Michigan Governor Rick Snyder played in its creation. He also looks at the great teacher’s strike in West Virginia, the Parkland School shooting survivors’ amazing revolution, and young minority members across America who are running for office.
Moore also spends a lot of time slaughtering Democratic sacred cows such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, The New York Times, even—gasp!—Barack Obama, who shows up in Flint to address the water crisis … and makes a royal ass of himself.
The problem is, Moore has crafted a sloppy, rather self-aggrandizing film that at times is just plain dull. The sequence where he compares Hitler’s rise to that of Trump’s borders on tasteless, even by Moore’s loose standards. Plus, as with all of Moore’s work, the question must be raised: How many of his claims in the film are true? Moore’s file at Polifact.com states that 35 percent of the so-called facts that he has thrown out in recent years are “Mostly True,” while only 12 percent are rated as “True.” Even more interestingly, Politifact finds that 29 percent of his claims are flat-out “False” while another 18 percent is “Mostly False.”
So Michael Moore is about as reliable as a Wikipedia entry—entertaining but you’d be hard pressed to find a college professor who would let you use him as a source on your term paper. Moore is a talented filmmaker, although let’s get real: He is not a documentarian. Never was. He makes opinion pieces that suffer from questionable facts and editing tactics. But the biggest sin of “Fahrenheit 11/9” is quite simply, dullness. And whether you’re on the left or right, we can all agree that’s something that doesn’t belong in a film.