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Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)

Running Time: 127 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 12A

Michael Moore knows how to rile people up, both in his choice of topics for skewering and with the material he finds to surround the actual factuals in his films. He’s done guns, President Bush, and the health care system—and now, he’s basically taking on the economic system upon which our country seems to have based itself. In usual Moore style, he offers up tragic stories of real people, biting humor, lots of finger-pointing, and some calls to action. As a message, it’s compelling—but as a documentary, it loses something along the way.

Having first been reminded in a slightly unsettling series of parallels to the U.S. that the Roman Empire was once a great nation that fell under the weight of its own greed and excess, we are quickly ushered in to Michael Moore’s latest campaign—Capitalism is evil. He brings it all in to court on this one—priests, displaced families, sleazy guys who call themselves “Condo Vultures,” and a laundry list of old white guys who have singlehandedly (well, there are a lot of them, so multi-handed?) used a corrupt system to pad their pockets and rip ours out. This is his call to action against his most formidable opponent yet.

Politically and ideologically, I am firmly on the side of Moore. Call me a Socialist if you must, but I see the wisdom of sharing the wealth and all. Really, though, I don’t think my leftist leanings are relevant—I’m here for the movie. And it’s not a bad movie. Moore definitely knows how to do some things right for this particular type of documentary—his true life stories are, as always, perfectly chosen to encompass as wide a berth of society as possible, and even if they do sometimes veer towards the exploitative, they’re effective, and we can both empathize and feel angry for these folks. Also, Moore uses history well, reminding us of decades gone by and how capitalism has been the frenemy of democracy for as long as both have existed. Entertainment-wise, though, Capitalism lacks the heart of Bowling for Columbine or the snarky humor of Fahrenheit 9/11. This is fascinating stuff, but at times around midway through, the film becomes bogged down in the naming of names. Frankly, it gets a little confusing, and though seeing and knowing who all these guys are that screwed us all over gives the project credibility, it slows things down and could’ve been handled quicker. Plus, the whole “trying to see the CEO/President/Main Guy” has been done so many times before—mainly by Moore—that it’s starting to feel staged. Overall, though, he’s good at what he does, and it’s hard to deny the validity of his arguments or his ability to give his people what they want.

It's Got: Priests calling capitalism evil, an introduction to what "dead peasant" policies are, some well-placed history lessons

It Needs: More relatable stories, less Moore outside of places trying to get in


Not quite as entertaining as some of his work, Michael Moore’s latest documentary is still a fascinating glimpse into how the financial system the U.S. prides itself on may actually have led to its decline.