Dave Gorman attempts to travel coast to coast across America without giving any money to 'The Man' by avoiding large chains and multi-nationals and instead seeking out independent businesses in order to find the true spirit of the country.

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Dave Gorman attempts to travel coast to coast across America without giving any money to 'The Man' by avoiding large chains and multi-nationals and instead seeking out independent businesses in order to find the true spirit of the country.

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One man's journey through non-corporate America.

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5 February 2008 (UK)  »

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A personal look at small town America in a big corporate world
12 February 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

America Unchained is a really good documentary from the mind of Dave Gorman (occasional statistical analyst for the Daily Show. He had a segment called "Poll Smoking, with Dave Gorman).

Basically Dave wants to see if it's possible to drive across America from the west coast to the east coast without giving any money to "The Man". That is to not buy gas at, eat food at, or sleep at any big chain gas stations, restaurants and hotels, instead only doing the previously mentioned at 'Mom & Pop' places that are family run or independently run.

It's an interesting look at how small town America is being swallowed up by big time corporations, and a big part of unique American culture is dying off as the public accepts becoming homogenised in greater and greater aspects of their lives.

What makes this documentary good is it isn't political. No corporate names are brought up in criticism to serve an agenda, but only brought up as an example of a place Dave doesn't want to give money to because it's not a 'Mom & Pop' business, and because it is often devoid of charm and character due to the uniformity of the chains. Waking up in a generic room at a Best Western Hotel tells you nothing of where you actually are in the world as a room in New York and a room in Istanbul could be completely interchangeable.

Dave's style is always personal and honest, and you get to see all kinds of emotion from a man who often ends up in very difficult circumstances (sometimes through his own fault) and you feel for him when he gets angry or even starts to break down sometimes. But none of it feels contrived, as someone watching it you're just along for the ride.

It's also only 75 minutes, so it's not too long to become laborious like some documentaries can be.

Highly recommended.


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