Posted: January 18, 2006 in Reviews Archive

for file 23 Magazine

About seven years ago, I had some drunken “doofus” try to kick open my door at 5:00 AM. Fortunately he was too wasted to get the door open. I remember talking to the 911 operator with the phone in my left hand- and my trusty Smith and Wesson 357 loaded and cocked pointed at the door.

The cops showed up in force nice and quick ( a quick file 23 challenge: I dare you to try to find one bad word in any of my writing about cops. You can’t do it. I love those guys.) …and then Fort Worth’s finest tossed the “doofus” guy in one of their cars like a bag of fertilizer.

One of the cops asked me later why I didn’t the shoot the guy (which is probably most likely illegal anyway, according to my Samoan attorney, unless you know for a fact the person on the other side of the door is armed like you. Like I could see through the door or something like that.)

The fact is, I didn’t want to shoot the guy unless he got the door open but that one detail would of changed my mind fairly quick.

In BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, Michael Moore examines the great American fascination with firearms and our quickness to use them. A NRA member since he was a teenager, Moore asks tough questions, like why in America our society is so violent.

And if the film fails on any level, it would probably be that those are tough questions that never really get answered in this movie.

But it’s not like he didn’t try like hell; Moore visits Littleton, Colorado and talks to students who survived the Columbine massacre, including one left in a wheelchair for life.

One thing you can’t accuse Moore of is cookie-cutter filmmaking; there’s no slow zoom out from the yearbook photos of the killers, who are only shown in BOWLING for COLUMBINE as abstract figures in grainy security camera footage.

Moore also interviews Marilyn Manson, whose music was demonized and blamed for setting off the killers and consequently he comes off as one of the few people interviewed who really seems to know what he’s talking about. especially more so than the anti-Manson protesters shown rallying against him at a Denver OzzFest show.

But their insignificant number pails in comparison to the huge crowd who assembled against Charlton Heston making an appearance at a huge NRA rally, the one where he waved the rifle over his head ( you know, “From my cold deadhands…?)

There was a whole “c’mon-get-over-it” attitude, only ten short days after the massacre. But the callousness doesn’t really set in until later in the film when Heston shows up in Moore’s hometown of Flynt, Michigan (his previous subject of ROGER AND ME) at a similar rally shortly after six-year-old Kayla Rolland was shot to death in a classroom by another student.

The first grader who shot Kayla was a six-year-old boy whose mother had left him with an uncle while she worked seventy hours a week at two minimum wage jobs (and they were fixing to be evicted by Deputy Fred that week.)

That little fellow found a 32-caliber pistol at his uncle’s house and took it to school with him that day…

Incidentally, It turns out that Michigan’s welfare system had recently gone bankrupt and had been privatized by Lockheed-Martin. The boy’s mother didn’t, and couldn’t, see him off to school that day because she was being forced to work off the welfare money she had collected under Lockheed’s “Welfare To Work? program.

Moore also travels to Los Angeles and manages to get an interview with Charlton Heston who walks off-camera when Moore suggests Mr. Heston might apologize for his ill-timed appearances at those NRA rallies. “Moses” also refuses to even look at a photo of Kayla Rolland, a definite tear jerker of a moment.

Well done, Michael. I personally can’t wait to see FAHRENHEIT 9/11!



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