Award-winning director Yoav Shamir (Defamation, Checkpoint) sets out on an entertaining and insightful international quest, exploring the notion of heroism through a multi-faceted lens. ... See full summary »
Our intrepid defender of the working man, Michael Moore, documents his 1996 "Downsize This!" book tour across the USA. Shot on-the-cheap with a video camera, we once again watch our hero interview the working man at yet another plant closing, while also trying to get past corporate security guards to interview the millionaire CEOs. Written by
Tim G. <email@example.com>
From the back of the DVD cover of "The Big One": "If Fortune 500 companies are posting record-setting profits, why do they continue laying off thousands of workers?"
That's the fundamental question this movie poses to the viewer.
In "The Big One," filmmaker Michael Moore goes on a Random House book tour promoting "Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American." In a hilarious whirlwind tour across the United States that takes him from Milwaukee, to Philadelphia, to Ft. Lauderdale, to Rockford, to Des Moines, to Harvard University and finally to his hometown of Flint, Michigan, Moore asks that fundamental question while also exposing corporate corruption and callous politicians in the Clinton-era America of the mid-1990s, and also playing good-humored pranks on the assorted media escorts hired to keep him out of trouble.
Moore's book tour travels are mixed with blazing stand-up comedy and visits with out-of-work or soon-to-be out-of-work employees at these major companies that are making record-setting profits but continue to lay off their workers, when they should be hiring more workers. He also talks clandestinely with employees at a Des Moines Borders who were forced out of a book-signing and also had money being taken out of their paychecks to pay for a doctor as part of an out-of-state health care plan. These same workers were also trying to organize a labor union.
He also meets a woman at a book-signing who was laid off earlier that day and she wanted desperately to meet him. We are also quite startled to learn that TWA has found cheap labor in prison convicts for their phone-answering services. At the end, he's granted with his first (and only) interview with the C.E.O. of Nike, which has a company in Indonesia that hires underage workers. Moore offers numerous challenges to which the chairman turns them all down - exposing his callousness and greed - and the C.E.O. finally caves to donate $10,000 to Flint, Michigan's struggling school system.
"The Big One" is perhaps Moore's most underrated feature. Of course the film seems like a time capsule 11 years later since corporate downsizing and corruption have taken a backseat to terrorism, America's simultaneous conflicts with terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the global War on Terror. But I also have to say that "The Big One" is perhaps Moore's funniest film to date (my personal favorite is his 2004 anti-Bush "Fahrenheit 9/11," and I have yet to read "Downsize This!"). But underneath the biting comedy, there is also a strong sense of anger and sadness that Moore delivers with some pretty strong passion. Some bits of "The Big One" are just downright depressing. He knows something's wrong with all the big corporations that continue making record profits but lay off the workers when they should be hiring more.
While the movie is incredibly funny, Moore has been criticized for not offering solutions to all the people he encounters. The answer is simple, he just doesn't have any. There's nothing he can do to change the minds of greedy executives who would send jobs abroad rather than keep them here in America because they don't have to pay the workers as much. He's only one man who has been the ire of corporate America for nearly 20 years now, and it doesn't seem like he's any closer to winning his crusade.
"The Big One" is Moore's "Big One," all right, full of humor and satire aimed at his one true enemy, corporate America. It's not his best movie, but it proves that he still has the ability to expose corruption everywhere he sees it and show us that something is indeed wrong in this Land of the Free.
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