Michael Moore stands outside of the AIG building in his trademark baseball cap and thick-rimmed glasses with a megaphone in hand. “I’m here to make a citizen’s arrest,” he declares before storming into a lavishly adorned lobby, only to be accosted by security and forced to leave.
If this image arouses tremors of disgust in your traditionalist bowels, there’s little reason to believe that Moore’s latest propaganda-doc, "Capitalism: A Love Story," will win you over. The film features, among other scenes sure to infuriate right-wingers, Moore attempting in vain to find “capitalism” in the Constitution, a series of priests denouncing free-market economics as unchristlike, and a clip of Ronald Reagan slapping a woman in the face from his acting days – hardly a reach across the aisle.
The film serves almost as a sequel to Moore’s 1989 debut Roger & Me, in which he used his hometown, Flint, Michigan, as a case study in neoliberal destruction. In "Capitalism," Moore returns to a freshly wounded America, and takes on not just General Motors, but our entire system of economics. Because Moore’s topic is so sweeping, he structures the film nonlinearly, opting to jump from anecdote to anecdote. But his thesis is clear: it’s capitalism, not socialism, that should be a dirty word.
"Capitalism," like all of Moore’s prior films, is oversimplified and filled with cheap shots (Is any Moore movie complete without an obligatory “Bush is an oaf” montage?). Moore also loses some credibility points for not adequately addressing Bill Clinton’s role in the financial collapse and handling Obama with kid gloves.
However, there is legitimate muckraking in Capitalism. In one poignant scene, a group of Pennsylvania teenagers explain how they were unjustly imprisoned by a judge who was bribed by the private owners of a detention facility. Also, due to quick and clever editing, there are more laugh-out-loud moments than you find in most movies that are billed as comedies. Even if you view Moore as just another ideologue in an increasingly fragmented media landscape, he is, at least, an ideologue with a keen sense of the absurd and a talented team of researchers and editors working behind him.
Check out the full trailer below: