Movie Review: Michael Moore in Trumpland
By Matthew Huntley
October 27, 2016

12 more days until the election. Just 12.

Michael Moore's Michael Moore in Trumpland is, without question, biased toward Hillary Clinton. Heck, all throughout it, Moore explicitly tells us to vote for her in the upcoming presidential election. But what's interesting is that the film's lasting impression is not that of overt partiality toward one politician but rather genuine, solemn affection for the United States and Moore's hopes for improving it.

This is why Michael Moore in Trumpland works as a movie and not merely as pro-Clinton/anti-Trump propaganda, although it fits snuggly into that category too. In it, Moore puts on a one-man show at The Murphy Theater in Wilmington, Ohio (birthplace of the banana split) and pleads his case for why he thinks Hillary Clinton is the better, more qualified person to lead our country and, hopefully, enhance the world. The fact that we listen to Moore not only tells us he's s a gifted rhetorician but that he also has something worth saying, which, in turn, makes the movie worth seeing.

Yes, this goes for avid supporters of Donald Trump and/or haters of Michael Moore, too, because, deep down, we all know it's right to hear both sides of an argument, and Moore, an outspoken liberal, simply presents one aspect of the left side with earnestness, pragmatism and frivolity. He's neither bullying nor hostile, and even though he doesn't hesitate to take silly jabs at Donald Trump and company, he doesn't go overboard. For the most part, he's harmless and just wants members of his audience, which is comprised of people from all sides of the political spectrum but mostly those who are on the fence, to hear him out. His hope is that, by the end, the undecided will join Team Hillary.

Moore and his friends decided to make the movie just over two weeks ago (or about a month before the November election) because he feared Democrats were celebrating a victory too early and “performing their end zone dance on the 50-yard-line.” In a country that can legitimately elect George W. Bush to the White House at least once, Moore doesn't assume anything is necessarily “in the bag,” and the film is his personal effort to make Clinton's election more probable, although he knows it's not a guarantee.

What exactly does the film tell us that most followers of this crazy, unprecedented election don't already know? For me, I didn't know Hillary Clinton visited Estonia in the late 1990s to research why women in that country are the least likely to die during childbirth, the answer to which she hoped would lend credibility toward her effort to socialize health care.

I also didn't know Moore had dedicated a chapter in his book, Downsize This, to Clinton, complete with pictures of a young, college-aged Hillary. Moore added the chapter after members of Congress, among others, suddenly started attacking Clinton for seemingly inexplicable reasons. Moore argues it's because she refused to behave as just some docile, uninvolved house wife, baking cookies and hosting tea parties. He goes on to play an audio excerpt from her 1969 commencement speech at Wellesley College, in which she said, “We're not in the positions yet of leadership and power, but we do have that indispensable element of criticizing and constructive protest...” Moore believes the woman who spoke these words is still “in there,” and with her experience and knowledge, can help end the gridlock in Congress that's preventing the United States from progressing.

Perhaps the information Moore brings to the table isn't anything new, or perhaps you don't believe what he says anyway. Regardless, he uses his short time wisely and makes it clear why Clinton should be president and not Donald Trump, so nobody can't say he doesn't make a sound, intelligent argument. One of Moore's methods for doing so is by illustrating just how ludicrous some of Trump's proposals would be should they ever be realized. For instance, Moore playfully segregates members of his audience by ethnicity, with the Mexicans barricaded behind a wall and Muslims shoved into a corner, over which a drone flies to constantly monitor them. If Moore's send-ups of Trump's ideas for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, or disallowing Muslims from entering the country just because of their religious affiliation seem ridiculous in a theater, it should stand to reason the real plans are and would be even more ridiculous, dangerous and expensive.

Of course, the movie isn't without other “Moore-isms,” including a flagrant parody of inauguration day if Trump was elected president, complete with a bad vocal impression of Trump himself. Honestly, the film could have done without these and instead presented the before-and-after footage (which Moore says exists) of the audience members who went into the show unsure of who to vote for and see whether or not Moore persuaded or dissuaded them to become a Hillary supporter. That would have been more interesting to watch.

Nevertheless, the film is effective just for the way Moore speaks candidly about Hillary's strong points as well as her flaws. We can sense the fear in his voice if she doesn't win, but if she does and she hasn't fulfilled her promises during her first four years, Moore vows to run for president in 2020. (Is it wrong, then, that I hope an elected Hillary doesn't come through with what she says?)

It's not my job to tell you who to vote for on November 8th; my duty is to either recommend or not recommend a movie based on how effective and entertaining I think it is and whether I think you'd be better off for seeing it. Despite Michael Moore in Trumpland being so political, and regardless of my support of Moore, I genuinely believe it'd be wise for all viewers to see it, not only for the potentially new information Moore reveals, but because his “performance” generates real pathos. It may surprise you to learn that this isn't an hour and 15-minute rant against Donald Trump, but more a love letter to Hillary Clinton and, in turn, our country. Moore creates a biased environment, yes, but it 's a welcoming one, which is why I think Trump supporters will be able to “stomach” it.

So now it's the other side's turn. There's still two weeks left until election day, and if Michael Moore can shoot, edit and distribute this film is as much time, surely members of Team Trump can do the same, but with their own arguments. I would gladly see it in order to hear them plead their case. I just hope whoever puts on a show in “Clintonland,” he or she would be just as intelligent, sincere and neighborly as Moore.