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"THE BIG ONE"
(1998) (Michael Moore) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor None *Mild None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None None None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None Minor None Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Documentary/Comedy: One a cross country tour, a disgruntled author tries to find any CEO who can explain why corporations are downsizing staff while experiencing record profits.
PLOT:
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore goes on a nationwide tour promoting his latest book, "Downsize This!" At various book signings he meets everyday people who've been laid off or who have tenuous job security and are having a hard time making ends meet. Fed up with this corporate downsizing mentality that's rampant while record profits are being met, Moore and his film crew set off to find one CEO who can justify their actions. Along the way, Moore -- in his trademark sardonic manner -- interviews disgruntled employees, people who've been laid off, and corporate executives who don't want to discuss these matters.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Probably not, although it might be good for teens to see as an eye opener about the corporate world.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For some strong language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MICHAEL MOORE is an investigative reporter/frustrated comic who attempts to show that corporations and their CEO's are bad guys, while supporting the "little people" who struggle to make ends meet while fearing for their job security.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 8 out of 10
    After taking on General Motors and GM CEO Roger Smith in his groundbreaking 1989 film, "Roger and Me," documentary filmmaker Michael Moore sets off to do the same with corporations all across America in "The Big One." Part investigative reporter, social commentator, and definitely a frustrated standup comedian, Moore delivers a film that will make you laugh (a lot) and think (hopefully more) about the current state of downsizing in corporate America.

    In fact, this film -- shot in Moore's trademark guerilla-like style, with shaky and occasionally out of focus footage -- might just be one of the year's funniest movies. Whether telling anecdotes about his experiences or sardonically discussing some event or person, Moore elicits some the biggest laughs I've heard from an audience in some time.

    An exceptionally funny bit involves Moore's sarcastic investigation into whether former presidential candidate Steve Forbes is really a space alien. Using voice-over and various interviews and citing that no one knows when the magazine entrepreneur was born or where he's from, Moore is particularly disturbed by the fact that Forbes doesn't ever blink (demonstrated by a hilarious bit of footage from a real interview). Moore even comments that a doctor he later "interviewed" said, "Well, that's not human."

    Of course Moore knows that using comedy and making people laugh not only endears an audience to the "comedian," but it's also a useful tool to use when teaching or "educating" people. The best part is that much of the humor comes from the absurd situations he's encountered. Telling a story about sending a check to then candidate Ross Perot from the "Pedophiles For Free Trade," Moore talks about receiving a form letter back from the campaign office that wanted to thank him and his "fellow pedophiles" for their support.

    Moore also has a sly wit about him, and when interviewing a Payday candy bar executive "off camera," we see him munching away on one of their products. At another company, he presents the representative with a check for eighty cents to pay the first hour of work the company's new Mexican employees (who have replaced the higher-paid American workers) will be making. Finally, after badgering executives of another company about their business practices, he ends by talking about really liking their laundry detergent because he always forgets to separate the colors from the whites.

    Despite the comedy, Moore definitely has an ax to grind -- albeit one with a seemingly reasonable excuse, at least the way he's presented it here. Not one to back down from a confrontation and certainly not afraid to speak his mind, Moore's blatant, strong pro-union stance may put off some viewers. Even so, his self-deprecating style makes his message easy to swallow or tolerate (depending on your stance), and his travails are always entertaining and engaging to watch.

    Obviously, one should take the "facts" he presents with a grain of salt since even so-called neutral journalists often bend or distort the truth to get the desired effect. Since Moore is so blatant in his approach and goal, you occasionally get the suspicion that the film and its footage of the corporate "evil doers" have been selectively shot and edited to his advantage. Obviously, that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone and even so, his point is always compelling.

    It's his film of course, and Moore can make it anyway he wants. As long as viewers don't unquestionably accept everything as the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they should find this film to be a thought-provoking experience. Additionally, since of most of us fall closer to the group with which Moore sympathizes than the one he chastises, he certainly endears himself and his message to most moviegoers.

    Part "Sixty Minutes" investigation, part "Seinfeldian" social commentary and humor, this is probably one of the better films you'll see this year. Any time a movie can prod your mind as much as your funny bone, you know it has succeeded. We highly enjoyed the film and give "The Big One" an 8 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Profanity, Moore's intrusive investigative style, and his stances on organized labor are really the only things with which one might object, with the latter two just being of personal preferences or stances. The profanity, while brief, does contain several uses of both the "f" and "s" words. Beyond being a good vehicle that might start some discussions about corporations and business in general, most of the other categories have little or no objectionable material.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • In news footage we see someone pouring champagne into a stack of glasses.
  • Moore admits sending a campaign check to candidate Clinton from the "hemp growers of America."
  • Moore jokes about the fact that if profit is the pure motive in America, then GM (General Motors) should sell crack (cocaine) instead of cars.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some may see Moore's intrusionist behavior as having some of both. Also, they may not find humor in him sending a check to candidate Clinton from the "hemp growers of America," to candidate Pat Buchanan from an abortion rights group, or to Ross Perot from the "pedophiles for free trade." (He does so to see who will cash the contribution regardless that it comes from a "questionable" organization).
  • Others may see the corporations and their CEO's as uncaring and only looking out for themselves and making money, instead of the well-being of their employees.
  • We briefly see a former prison inmate who states that he doesn't care about anyone (and anything that might happen to them) but himself.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Bite the big one" and "Kiss my butt."
  • Moore likes to take his camera crew into companies unannounced to catch executives unprepared for his questions.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 4 "f" words, 5 "s" words, 2 hells, 1 crap, and 2 uses each of "Oh my God" and "Oh God" and 1 use each of "Good God" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • We see a few people smoking cigarettes or cigars.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Who's more important to a company -- its shareholders or its workers?
  • How corporations and CEO's can justify downsizing their staff while having record profits.
  • The many repercussions of people losing their jobs and having to take lower paying replacement positions.
  • The pros and cons of unions.
  • The fact that some company's phone operators are actually prison inmates (as shown in this movie regarding an airline that uses them).
  • VIOLENCE
  • We briefly see some protest violence (people pushing and shoving each other) in some news footage.



  • Reviewed March 6, 1998

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