Michael Moore - Slacker Uprising [film] (Cover Artwork)

Michael Moore

Slacker Uprising [film] (2008)

The Weinstien Company

Agree with his politics or not, what Michael Moore has done with the release of his film could prove to be revolutionary. The zero cost and high curiosity associated with what Moore has to say almost guarantees success. But even more importantly, by bringing the In Rainbows business model to documentary films, Moore and the Weinstien Company could very well open the doors for other documentarians to take this route. Smaller-scale, lesser-known documentaries (the exceptional "King of Kong," for example) could arguably gain much larger followings by releasing streams online and encouraging the purchase of a DVD via online mail order. I think consumers are more likely to buy a DVD of a documentary they've seen and enjoyed (especially if supplemented with special features), as opposed to the risk taken with a $20+ dollar crap-shoot (to say nothing of the filmmaker's cost to attempt a theatrical release).

Ideally, you're always going to want to see big Hollywood blockbusters like "Iron Man" on the largest, clearest screen possible. But Michael Moore talking at a podium? Not so much.

As for the film itself, if you look back at his filmography, it seems there are two types of films in the Michael Moore canon: aggressive, pointed-issue documentaries ("Bowling for Columbine," "Roger & Me"), and the resulting tour diaries ("The Big One"). Unfortunately, this is the latter.

Like "The Big One," "Slacker Uprising" follows Michael on a tour of the states, this time a highlight reel of his tour leading up to the 2004 election. Padding out the film and spread out evenly throughout are musical performances and appearances by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, R.E.M., Anti-Flag, Tom Morello (doing material from his first Nightwatchman album), Joan Baez and, most bafflingly, Roseanne Barr.

One thing I noticed early on was the applause. This may seem like nit-picking, but once you notice it, it's hard to ignore. Someone will announce "Ladies and gentlemen...Michael Moore..." *WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH* -- the crowd goes apeshit as if he had just removed George W. Bush's severed head from a greasy brown paper bag. Maybe crowds were more fervent at a 2004 pre-election political rally, or maybe the applause was just mixed a bit high, for effect. Either way, it only compounds the highlight reel feel of the movie.

After the release of "Fahrenheit 9/11," many critics (not counting the armchair political analysts whose primary line of criticism is "he's fat" and would take any shot they could) criticized Moore for simply appearing in his own movie. They felt he took a disproportionate amount of facetime considering the subject matter, and it was a criticism he appeared to take to heart with "Sicko," being noticeably absent from the first third (or so) of the movie. Well, the pendulum has swung the other way, and Mike is all over this one. When it isn't him speaking to large crowds, it's members of that crowd expounding his greatness or local news reports on his visits. The movie only really heats up when conflict is introduced via young Republicans and right-wing Catholics catching wind of the tour and showing up to shout things at him. Their own ridiculous testimonials and Michael's on-stage retorts are definite highlights.

Another confusing issue is the timing of its release. Watching 2004 election rally footage during the climax of the 2008 election, you become disconnected to the presented footage. Being that the results are long since decided, all the vehement rallying doesn't have the same effect as it would at the time.

I'm a fan of Moore, I enjoy his work and generally agree with his impassioned point of view, and when he's on, he's really on. But all in all, "Slacker Uprising" just felt a little too self-congratulatory for me.

At a cost of nothing, you don't really have much to lose (save for an hour and a half) but I would only recommend this as "fans only." I wonder if the choice to release it online for free wasn't as much financial as it was maverick. The film isn't terrible, just not his best. It plays a little like a Michael Moore B-Reel¹, with the applause mixed a little too high - literally and figuratively.

¹ - Not to be confused with Cypress Hill rapper B-Real.