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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.81%
Worth A Look77.78%
Average: 3.7%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 3.7%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Big One, The
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by Slyder

"A far better film than it appears to be"
4 stars

Technically, the big one is Michael Moore’s third film, but Canadian Bacon was just a misguided attempt at fiction that very few people even remember it (and don’t even want to remember since some truly believe this movie caused John Candy’s death). So fast-forward from 1989 when he busted out on to the scene with his sensational debut “Roger and Me”, to 1997 when Moore decided to make a regular book tour to support his latest publication “Downsize This: Random Threats from an Average Unarmed American”, he decides that he’s going to make it a lot more interesting than what it usually is, and he brings in his merry crew with him to film it all.

For the longest time, The Big One, along with Moore’s student rally movie Slacker Uprising, has been considered one of his lesser efforts, yet as the minutes rolled while watching this film, the criticism made less sense than before, for I found it a genuinely entertaining, funny, and insightful experience from a man who’s beginning to hit his stride and polish his craft further than before. Certainly it’s one of the better and unquestionably one of the more misunderstood films of 1997.

The bulk of the criticism seems to be squarely focused in two points, Moore’s clear celebrity status conflicting with his working class heroics and the apparent unfocused nature of this film. Ever since Roger and Me, Moore has been faced with constant criticism regarding his newly obtained celebrity status, and the fact that this movie has basically no further point than to show Moore do his “I want to talk to the CEO of XYZ but can’t” shtick repeatedly, while cracking jokes and rambling about his adventures whenever he’s invited to speak in college campuses. This, so they say, does nothing but smack of self importance and hypocrisy. Moore is riding the “working class hero bullshit” bandwagon simply to serve points for himself while trying to appeal to the unemployed masses that come to his autograph sessions to ask him for help, whether it’s because they got laid off or because their bosses attempt to thwart the Union that they so badly want to establish. So they come to them because he apparently represents the angry voice of the working class, even though he stopped being a working class hero guy the moment he started earning the big bucks when that sweet smell of success came rushing in a movie and two TV shows ago. And of course, being the celebrity that he is, Moore can have the liberty of making his PR escorts lives miserable by pulling pranks and shit on them.

Certainly at face value, this seems to be the true, but upon examination we find that this is not the case. Certainly Moore has earned his fame and fortune, and by celebrity standards, he has become a big fish, yet never in the movie (nor in any other subsequent movie of his since) has he ever committed the sinful act of what we call in Mexico “kicking the manger from which you were born into.” Moore still cares about these people, the unfortunate victims of corporate greed whom despite earning record profits axe these hard-working individuals and take their companies overseas where the labor rate is cheaper and the profits therefore are larger (globalization). And he SHOULD know, for he comes from a city that has suffered and is still suffering one of the most devastating cases of deindustrialization in history (which of course has led to depopulation and according the latest census, from a peak high of 197,000 that lived there in the 60s, now in 2009, there’s only less than 111,500 living there).

The repetitious nature of Moore’s antics of visiting companies that have recently downsized their workforce and laid off their employees, as well as his potshots at President Clinton and his then-challengers Bob Dole, Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot, hides albeit unintentionally Moore’s motivation for doing these things in the first place. He’s using his status as a big fish to stick it up to the other big fish that are residing in this gigantic pond in the United States. This in no way is hypocritical, for he still has to work to earn money and just because you’re earning more income doesn’t mean that you’re all of a sudden any different from the people that you once were shoved in with (these are the same people whom praise the Sex Pistols for starting the independent underground movement and yet fail to realize they actually signed and released their album on a major label). This is about raising awareness once again about the destructive powers that corporations have against the very own people they once employed in this country. Similar to what a terrorist bomb can do and did to the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, Moore draws the point about why globalization is the ultimate act of terrorism inflicted by major corporations who could give two shits about their workforce whom were loyal to them since their beginnings only to give them a big kick in the ass and leave them stranded outside looking from afar how their American Dream vanishes, while at the same time sinking the country further into poverty. Furthermore, Moore’s repeated attempts to meet with these company CEOS and the subsequent rejections thanks to their PR dorks and their security guards just simply underlines the point further that these people when confronted with these questions don’t have jackshit to say about the matter because it is fundamentally true. And since there can be no rebuttal of these hard facts (the already tiresome “we must remain competitive” defense just doesn’t wash), they’ll send some stupid fuck to simply stall you from getting to the point, or just call security to escort you out.

And this is proven in the film’s climatic interview of Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike company, the only CEO in the entire movie and tour which Moore was able to obtain an interview from. Knight, being the cold-hearted bastard that he is, shows no sympathy for the American workforce, and he could give a shit what the conditions are in his factories in Indonesia, or that 14 year olds are being paid less than $0.40 cents an hour there. How could he? He’s never been there by his own admission. All he cares about is the profits. When Moore shows him evidence that the residents in Flint, Michigan will be more than willing to work for him if he opens a shoe factory there, he brushes the idea off, calling it unfeasible. By interview’s end, Knight ends with a gigantic egg in his face and by his own stupidity, becomes the face of all corporate greed in the US, and this is years before Ken Lay, Bernard Ebbers and Richard Scrushy came to the picture, folks. And that also my friends, is kicking the manger from where you were born into.

Moore’s trademark razor sharp humor and cosmic ironies once again float towards the surface and make for some truly hilarious moments. The best examples of these are his observations of incumbent politician Steve Forbes who never seems to blink one bit during his interviews, and according to a doctor that Moore consulted, that’s just not from this earth. And his P.R. dork does not do ANYTHING to dispel that fact, especially when he admits that he has no clue who he really is and where he came from. Then there’s that convicted felon who could give two shits about anyone in society, whom admits that in jail, the prison warden secured a contract with TWA in order have inmates serve as telemarketers taking in calls to schedule flights. That’s right, a convicted murderer and/or a rapist serving as a telemarketing tool for an Airline, and giving him access to client’s personal information in the process – smart move. Sure, defenders will say that this is part of the “rehabilitation program” for these guys so that they can have at least some form of experience in order to land a job when they get out of prison. But that’s not the point; the point is that prison inmates are being used as telemarketers while there are several unemployed people there that have the qualifications to the job just the same if not better, out in the street rotting. And furthermore, TWA is getting a big cut than usual because, of course, prison inmates can’t earn wages, so the prison itself earns its cut, albeit a smaller one while TWA walks away with the rest. And you thought slave labor didn’t exist here?

More often than not, The Big One can be seen as an unofficial sequel to Roger and Me (and it’s little brother Pets of Meat), in which Moore tries to address the fact that the factors that contributed to the chain of events that spelled the ruin of Flint, Michigan are not by any means local, it’s a nationwide problem that can be bound to affect the entire country if left unchecked. And how prophetic that this is precisely the very same situation that we’re living in these days in the aftermath of the Subprime Mortgage crisis of 2007-08. Love him or hate him or disagree with his methods, you can’t deny that Michael Moore nailed this one in the head. The Big One succeeds in not exposing but rather enhancing the severity of the problems that exist in America today regarding the relationship between the corporation and the average Joe who works for them. And the more time passes, the more relevant it becomes. 4-5.

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originally posted: 09/05/10 16:42:44
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User Comments

9/03/05 ES Detailing Pride Greed and Vanity amoung America's elite and in moore himself 4 stars
11/12/04 Steven Votaw Michael is focus of camera. Editing helps drive point not facts. Film serves man. 3 stars
8/02/04 John Aster Habig Broader than Roger & Me and just as hard hitting first scene is awesome 5 stars
6/23/04 Jack Sommersby Solid, focused, and persuasive -- and very entertaining. 4 stars
4/15/04 Agent Sands Not as good as "Bowling," but a wee bit better than "Roger." Effective. 4 stars
2/27/04 Charles Tatum Yeah, damn, who distributed this again? 1 stars
12/09/03 john unfortunately a very accurate account of corporate politics - excellent and insightful film 5 stars
12/17/02 Interrog8 Michael Moore is a genius, and this proves it. 5 stars
6/15/00 LEVI ALVARES Claude It's an essential film about the world in which we live. It's provocative, funny and sad. 5 stars
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  10-Apr-1997 (PG-13)
  DVD: 28-Sep-2004



Directed by
  Michael Moore

Written by
  Michael Moore

  Michael Moore
  Rick Nielsen
  Phil Knight
  Garrison Keillor
  Studs Terkel

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