A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this documentary -- which chronicles Michael Moore's 62-city, 20-state tour of "swing states" to get out the vote in favor of John Kerry for the 2004 election -- is a lengthy harangue against George W. Bush, the Iraq War, and the Republican Party. The political discussion is constant throughout -- issues from health care to Iraq are mentioned, as are the First Amendment, partisan politics, and the controversy over the Supreme Court's decision in the 2000 election. The level of discourse may be heated, but it's mostly civil, albeit one-sided. There's some strong language (including "f--k"), though it's not frequent.
What's the story?
Following documentarian and political activist/agitator Michael Moore on a 20-state, 62-city "get out the vote" tour on the eve of the 2004 election, SLACKER UPRISING chronicles Moore's travels and tribulations -- including controversy as Republican and right-leaning groups try to keep him from speaking at various university campuses across the nation. Slacker Uprising also includes several musical performances, from artists as diverse as Eddie Vedder, Joan Baez, Steve Earle, and more, as well as man-on-the-street interviews and public speeches by political activists and celebrities like Roseanne Barr and Viggo Mortensen.
Is it any good?
Moore's other films, love them or hate them, have at least looked at serious issues; unfortunately, the main focus of Slacker Uprising seems to be on how wonderful Moore is. Moore has always been a big part of his own films -- the blend of astute, well-researched political commentary and his big, burly personality is what makes his films like Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 911 as good (and interesting) as they are. But in Slacker Uprising, the focus seems to be almost entirely on Moore, with his personality and public persona the main subject and topic of the film -- and the movie suffers for it. Much of Slacker Uprising consists of watching Moore receive standing ovations or being lauded by his fans or cursed by his foes; that narrow focus turns the film from a political documentary into a weird kind of vanity project by a writer-director-activist who would probably insist that he has no vanity.
And, bluntly, Moore's get-out-the-vote shenanigans (including giving Ramen noodles and clean underwear to youths who register to vote) are a little sad to watch, considering that they didn't work; watching Moore exhort people to vote for John Kerry for more than 90 minutes is like watching a lengthy, hysterical pep rally held on behalf of a team that lost. Moore is capable of much stronger work than this, and the fact that Slacker Uprising is available for free on the Internet may just be a smoke screen for the fact that it's hard to imagine a movie studio paying the cost of distributing it in theaters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about a plethora of political issues raised in this documentary, from the media's role in the lead up to the Iraq war to the history of political activism and dissent in America. Do you agree with any of Moore's arguments or positions? Why or why not? Do you think he accomplishes what he sets out to? Families can also discuss Moore's decision to make this film available for free over the Internet -- is this a striking example of new models of movie distribution, or a matter of simply giving away a film that no distributor wanted to play in theaters?
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