A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fahrenheit 11/9 is an urgent, cautionary documentary by controversial filmmaker Michael Moore that targets both Donald Trump and the attitudes in America that led to him and others like him taking power. It also celebrates underdogs who speak up and fight for what they believe in. Expect frequent strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," the "N" word, "a--hole," and more. Scenes show shocking/potentially upsetting images of the 2018 Parkland school shooting in Florida, as well as angry, racially motivated outbursts; references to sexual predators; and Army training footage with shooting and explosions. There are a few spoken sexual references, but substance use isn't an issue.
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What's the story?
In FAHRENHEIT 11/9, filmmaker Michael Moore looks at the night of the 2016 presidential election -- when Donald Trump defied many people's expectations and beat Hillary Clinton -- and asks, "How did this happen?" Moore presents what he argues are Trump's various crimes and manipulations, noting that they've always been committed in plain sight and that his followers don't care. Moore also explores a situation involving Trump's friend, Michigan governor Rick Snyder, who tried to profit by switching the water supply for the residents of Flint, Michigan, to poisonous river water -- and got away with it. Moore identifies parallels between 1930s Germany/the rise of Adolf Hitler and the current situation in the United States. He also follows young, outspoken activists who desperately want changes in gun violence, health care, and other hot issues. But he leaves off with a warning: We aren't as safe as we might think.
Is it any good?
Moore's film is a proudly subjective patchwork that scampers in many directions, but it's also by far his most vital, cautionary, and urgent work; it's unmissable. In Fahrenheit 11/9 -- whose title is deliberately intended to echo Moore's (in)famous Fahrenheit 9/11 -- the filmmaker seems calmer and more focused on his thesis than on stunts or humor; he tries one half-hearted stunt but abandons it fairly quickly. He digs deep into the Flint water catastrophe and details the exact way in which Snyder managed to change the balance of power so that he could pull off his scheme. The shocks continue as detail after evil detail are revealed.
All of this is coolly compared with the state of 1930s Germany and the rise of Hitler, with each event outlined as its own somewhat logical step in a scenario that ultimately became terrifying and unthinkable. Trump takes some hits here, but he's not the dead center of Moore's target; as he argues, the America that elected Trump is troubled at its core and is on the way to making more mistakes. The movie's only real ray of hope comes in the form of young, grassroots activists who are speaking out and running for office, trying to set things right. But Moore isn't interested in letting viewers feel hopeful. Wondering whether things haven't already gone too far, Fahrenheit 11/9 ends on a down note, and it feels as if the only response is either to give up or to get mad and do something.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Fahrenheit 11/9's violent images. How much is shown, and how strong is the effect? Do you think they were necessary to the story?
What role do rallies, protests, and marches play in the political process? Do you see an increasing trend toward activism today?
How do you feel about Moore? Trump? Can you enjoy this film if you don't agree with Moore's politics?
Are Moore's documentaries objective or subjective? Why? What do those words mean? Are documentaries required to be one or the other?
- In theaters: September 21, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: December 18, 2018
- Cast: Michael Moore, Donald Trump
- Director: Michael Moore
- Studio: Briarcliff Entertainment
- Genre: Documentary
- Run time: 130 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and some disturbing material/images
- Last updated: September 19, 2019
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