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