Bowling for Columbine (2002)


Never be able to watch Planet of the Apes the same way ever again. The original, by the way. Not Tim Burton’s crap-on-a-silver-platter.

After the Columbine Massacres occurred in 1999, the world as we knew it was all in a wrestle because of the whole idea that the two kids were able to get guns, get bullets, and get all the materials that they needed, with little to no problems whatsoever. Heck, they aren’t even half of the problem. Basically, everybody’s allowed to get a gun in certain states and all it requires is a couple of papers to be signed, a slight exam, and that’s it. You got your gun, you got your bullets, and best of all, you got your tool to fuel your madness, if you’re that type of person. Michael Moore takes a look at this issue, and like always: the insights are never sweet.

No matter what you may think about his political-views, the way he goes on walks, or how he makes the simple, joyous moment in the history of every film maker’s life, a walking-preach of what he thinks is wrong with the Bush administrationthe guy is still one hell of a film maker and you cannot deny that. This movie is the prime example of what the guy is able to do and it never, ever ceases to amaze me. No matter how many damn times I get the privilege to see it. And that is always an honor as a movie lover, as a movie critic, and as a person, in general.

The whole gun-control issue in America is a very big one, but that isn’t what’s all discussed here. In fact, Moore goes on other topics such as fear, the media, violence, racism, corporate associations, K-Mart, musicians, war, money, hypocrisy, and so many other topics that I can’t even remember, but best of all, he goes for the jugular on all of them. I’ve heard so many things about Moore being a guy that does not take any prisoners when it comes to presenting something in front of our eyes and it’s no different here at all. I don’t even know where to begin with this review so let me just get down to the simple basics, baby.

"You're next, George W."
“You’re next, George W.”

This film doesn’t always give us the cut & dry solutions to certain happenings like the Columbine Massacre or 9/11, but it provides us with enough evidence, real-life conversations/interviews, and discussions as to why it is happening and what is behind all of it. I never, ever thought I could feel so much for documentary’s topic like gun-control and what’s really going on underneath the silver linings, but Moore made me think and feel something different. He isn’t out there to just bullshit us and give us what he thinks are the right solutions to these problems; he pretty much tells us and gives us valuable examples, statements, and reasons to back it all up. Moore talks with a bunch of people on a lot subjects and some of which, may have you totally surprised by how they are portrayed here.

Dick Clark just is a total asshole when Moore tries to talk to him about one of his prime restaurants and honestly made me wonder why the dude was even bothered with in the first-place. Seriously, you may not like Michael Moore or want to talk to him, but you do not have to be this much of a dick to get your point-across! Charlton Heston starts off his interview with Moore, being all “pro-rifle this, pro-rifle that”, but once Moore really gets to him and tells him what’s up, Heston starts to run away like a little baby because he’s so flustered in his argument. I don’t want to get into spoiler-territory with what this dude says or how he acts, but it will surprise the hell out of you and have you think a lot differently about the dude that our grand-parents never stop talking about.

Marilyn Manson may seem like the oddest-choice for this documentary, in terms of his music or what he brings to the table, but actually brings out one of the best points of the whole film. He tells us what he feels like to be blamed for the Columbine Massacre, and what he would have done to stop those kids from even thinking of doing such a thing. It sort of humanizes the guy in a way, that I didn’t think was capable of remotely happening. And finally, there is Matt Stone who also shows up and gives a bit of insight into the town of where he lived in, and how it’s considered one of the nicest places to be, despite it’s violent up-rising. It’s nothing special, but to hear it from a guy like this, still made me happy. There are plenty of other interviews here with other random, but significant people (such as a dude who “supposedly” committed an Oklahoma bombing and seems like one dude you do not want to be giving any type of lethal weapons to) and they all provide the best amount of information and insight into the world we live in as well as the documentary itself.

But what I liked the most about this movie isn’t that it’s a documentary all about Moore spouting-out facts left-and-right at us, it’s actually pretty entertaining to watch and follow along with, if you have the stomach for these kinds of things. I was surprised by how much I laughed during this flick, but by the same token, surprised by how much I was also very disturbed by. For the funny moments in this flick, there’s a nice animated-segment that play’s in the same breath as South Park that’s obscene, but true in the way that are history has wrapped it’s strange head. But then, you get to the very sad and disturbing stuff we are shown, as we actually get a couple of montages where we see people actually killing others with plenty of guns, military-footage of the war, and a whole scene where we see the Columbine Massacre happen, from the surveillance-video in the cafeteria. You’ll be glued in from start-to-finish with everything that Moore talks about, brings up, and states, but it isn’t boring in anyway and would have me howling at one point, but totally have my breath taken away (not in a Berlin-way) by some compellingly powerful stuff that Moore would show us as well. Whenever you can make somebody laugh one second, and then have them almost close to tears the next second, that’s usually a good sign of being a great director. Not good, not okay, but great.

Michael Vick is smiling somewhere. Too soon?
Michael Vick is somewhere smiling. Too soon?

Where this film bothered me at was how much it talks about and where it goes. I know that in this review, I stated that I liked how Moore went from topic-to-topic to give us a clear and broad understanding of what he’s talking about, but I didn’t like how it was so jumpy with it all. I get it, all of these acts of violence and anger are somehow connected to each other through some sort of statistic, but can you stop jumping around every five minutes? Please?!?!

I know that this is one of Moore’s most known flicks (hell, it won him an Oscar for Christ’s sakes!) but it’s one that should be watched by everybody I think. There is so much anger, so much hatred, so much violence, and so much fear in our country that it’s almost too hard to handle sometimes. You see in the news all of the time, about how a black man robs a corner market, or how some woman was robbed by some hoodlum in the projects, or just how some act of violence was committed, in someplace, at some time, but we never see anything else other than that. Everybody sees the bad stuff in the world, but are there any other times where good happens in this world? Or do we just have to wait until a 6-year old goes off by shooting, and killing a fellow 6-year old until we have to realize that maybe some things need to change, and need to change now. I have never really given two shits about the whole “gun-control” issue we have had in America for quite some time, but it’s one that I look at in a more intelligent-way now thanks to Mr. Moore and I can assure you that the next time I go out to a shooting range, I’m making sure the gun stays away from everybody else except for me, myself, and I.

Consensus: Michael Moore may go all-over-the-place with his topic at points, but Bowling for Columbine is still one hell of a documentary that is entertaining with it’s constant shifts from humor to drama, powerful facts and statistic it backs up with for its idea, and an unrelenting idea of how America, is a country that is based on fear, violence, and guns. May be a hard pill to swallow, but your eyes will be opened afterwards.

9 / 10 = Full Price!! 

"You mean to tell me that South Park has never been blamed for a bad thing in it's entire run?
“You mean to tell me that South Park has never been blamed for a bad thing in it’s entire run?”
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19 comments

  1. I’m no Michael Moore fan, but I actually really liked this particular film quite a bit. Seen it several times myself, and I think my favorite part was, as you mentioned, the Marylin Manson interview, and his very humanized approach to the situation that seems to obvious, yet goes so overlooked. It’s been a while since I last saw it, but after reading your review and thinking back on it, it’s actually kind of shocking how relevant this movie continues to be over ten years later. Great review, Dan. 🙂

  2. I agree that Manson makes the best points in the film. I didn’t really agree with Moore’s ultimate conclusion about what caused gun violence; it seemed like a bit of a stretch, almost like he was looking for something beyond the obvious. I agree that people should see this film regardless of what they think of Moore.

    • Whatever you think of Moore, is a tad irrelevant to the final-product because he represents what we all feel as Americans, as people apart of society, and human-beings.

  3. Funny that you wrote about this, because I was thinking about this yesterday; I haven’t seen it yet! After reading your review, I most certainly need to prioritize it on my list!

  4. Nice review Dan, I have not seen this one in years. As I recall I really dug it at the time but a re-watch is certainly in order. Especially considering the renewed debate on the subject.

    my take on gun control is that I should be the only one allowed to have a gun 😉

  5. My thoughts on documentaries (regardless of content) is to make people think about things – be it violence, climate change, school illiteracy or whatever. Whether you agree with Moore’s take on this element of US society or not – hell, whether you hate the dude or not – there’s no denying this is one of the most powerful documentaries ever made, because it got people talking.

    Great review, Dan. Can’t wait for your write-up on Fahrenheit 9/11……

  6. This movie didn’t win me over, but I do think it’s worthwhile. I found his assessment of what causes violence in the U.S. pretty shallow, but it was thought provoking nonetheless. And anything that gets people talking about serious issues — beyond the scope of what fits on Facebook messages or in five-minute sound bites — is definitely a good thing. 🙂

  7. This is movie came out at the right time to spark that discussion of gun violence and how to curb it. People need to be aware of the warning signs before another Columbine or Virginia Tech shooting happens again.

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