Thursday, March 19, 2009

Roger & Me (1989) R - 3 Stars

From one of my favorites, Michael Moore is at it again, shaking us to wake up and question why government, big business and politics, have so much control in our lives. He moves us to controversy with passion rather than just excepting what is laid out in front of us. Though I didn't enjoy it as much as some of his newer documentaries, the time period it's quite fascinating to take a comical nostalgic look at where the country was headed just 20 years ago. The focus of this comical revenge movie is to chat with General Motors chairman Roger Smith about how GM could do that to it's loyal workers.

One of Moore's early documentaries, this time he takes us to one of the world's largest corporation, General Motors, as it's closes it's doors in Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan. Moore, the son of an Flint autoworker, can identify with the workers having roots here. Flint used to be a thriving community, where most of it's occupants were employed by GM, but now most have been forced to flee the city to find work, or forced to stay in poverty level turning the the once American Dream, totally awry.

This once thriving town has now been labeled as the worst place to live in America. The empty streets of abandoned, boarded up homes looks like of the desolation of a war zone. With a 25% unemployment rate, Flint surpassed cities like Detroit, with the highest rate of violent crime. But GM reneged on their promise to workers of when WE profit, we ALL profit. Instead they closed the plant, laying off thousands of workers, built plants in Mexico and Asia, invested in automating assembly lines, even though record showed profits over $19 billion. The city invested $13 million in tax funds to build a luxury Hyatt Regency hoping to hold major conventions that went bankrupt. The Mott Foundation based in Flint, spent $100 million building Auto World, the world's largest indoor theme park which promptly closed within 6 months of opening. But how could GM do this to the loyal people of Flint, Michigan who invested their lives making GM rich?

Moore seeks out those who have stayed in Flint and the life style they are now forced to live. The rat population has exceeded the human population census. The lady who slaughters and skins rabbits for a living is forced to decide, pet or meat. Celebrities like Bob Eubanks, Connie Francis, Robert Schuller, Anita Bryant, Bobby Vinton, Pat Boone, and even "Miss Michigan" Kaye Lani Rae Rafko are spotlighted and /or interviewed on their roles they play in boosting confidence in people of Flint and the iconic GM plant in Flint, Michigan. Moore travels to the GM world headquarters in Detroit and is immediately escorted off the property. When he shows up at a board meeting waiting to speak from the podium, they remove him and won't let him speak. And even though he makes numerous attempts to chat with General Motors chairman, Roger Smith, for an explanation on why the GM plant decided to close down, he is unsuccessful in bringing him to face the people.

1988 - Roger & Me - Los Angeles Film Critics Association - Best Documentary
1989 - Roger & Me - National Board of Review - Best Documentary
1989 - Roger & Me - New York Film Critics Circle - Best Documentary

Dog Eat Dog Films
Director: Michael Moore
Writer: Michael Moore
Producer: Michael Moore
I viewed 2/09

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