Review: Capitalism: A Love Story DVD

STUDIO: Starz/Anchor Bay | DIRECTOR: Michael Moore
RELEASE DATE: 3/9/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $39.98
BONUSES: deleted scenes, extended interviews, Jimmy Carter 1979 national address
SPECS: R | 128 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Although it plays at times as a sequel-of-sorts to Roger and Me, the 1989 landmark first film from documentary provocateur Michael Moore, Capitalism: A Love Story is a bit of a disappointment. In the movie, the bespectacled, baseball-capped, not-so-dainty Moore tackles a big subject — capitalism and its hazardous effect on American life — and comes up with a scattershot affair that certainly makes strong points but eventually get blunted by Moore’s familiar showboating shenanigans.

The first hour of the film is fairly strong, particularly in the segments in which the documentary gets down and personal with such human interest stories, such as a family that has its Peoria home foreclosed upon and a segment involving workers who stage a sit-in to win back wages. Also strong is Moore’s finger-pointing at former Goldman Sachs employees’ involvement in today’s Treasury Department, and the chronicling of the downfall of the capitalism ideal through presidents and politics. (It’s no surprise that Ronald Reagan and Reaganomics are cited as a major culprit.)

But Moore’s sideshow antics seem forced and tired: picking on security guards who have little power and are probably struggling to put bread on the table themselves, and setting a crime scene tape around abandoned Wall Street offices. And what about the head-scratch worthy interlude with actor/playwright Wallace Shawn that plays like “My Dinner with Michael?”

Capitalism: A Love Story has some of the Moore chutzpah we’ve come to know and, if not love, at least respect. There’s great use of archival footage and a powerful flashback to the little-seen FDR call for a second Bill of Rights that would ensure Americans a job, fair wages and health care.

The problem in the movie is that aside from the huddled masses yearning to be free (of debt), the filmmaker tackles a huge subject and can’t confront the powers-that-be, really. Taking a building hostage isn’t as effective as facing off with an executive with pockets lined with bailout money who fiddled while America burned.

 

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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.