on May 25, 1999
America needs more movies like the Big One. We've have been lulled into complacency by corporate, political, and media propaganda. This isn't conspiracy, it's reality! Michael Moore simply and effectively demonstrates the numerous ways in which workers are screwed daily by the interests of corporate capital. One must remember that to effect a game, one must be a part of it - Michael Moore does work within the system, but he at least attempts to do good for the majority of working people. As far as the interviewees being more "clever" and "genuine" than Michael Moore - asking him to leave and refusing to answer questions (with the exception of Nike's CEO) is not appealing or genuine. If politcal cliches and avoidance is clever and appealing to you, then I imagine the status quo, oppresion, and greed are too. This film charmingly and humorously addresses the question of how far the majority of citizens will let the corporate community go. What is enough profit, and at what expense? These are important questions people need to consider. Vote, become politically active, educate yourself! Don't just fall in line. Question why things are done, for whom, and why. These are the realms this movie enters into and tries to expose for thought and debate. To simply label this conspiratorial or Marxian is a classic right-wing counterpunch based on half-truths, ignorance, and propaganda. Social obligation is at the heart of the message, and it is what is missing most in today's politics and policies.
on January 10, 2003
Boy this hit home hard. I was a former Enron Broadband Services employee.
I really liked the movie, it was approachable, and friendly. I didn't think even the Phil Knight meeting was all that bad. It was rumored to be soo awful, but here it was pretty friendly and sweet (cuz I was expecting bloodshed & chairs flying)---both guys came out looking pretty nice & sweet.
I still wouldn't buy Nikes, because I worked there on a short contract, and if you aren't a model-type, you get stared at like a skunk and people refuse to talk to you---and they don't even know you. Got an interesting mass of murderous Stepford Wives or cheerleaders working there. And isn't anybody getting sick of those PERKY, gungho marketing sociopaths yet???
Moore is pushing that more folks should get involved in standing up for their rights. He leads by example, and makes it approachable for everyday people who aren't into bloody confrontations.
I do think businesses should be able to make a buck, & lord knows I paid way toooo much taxes---only later, found it extremely difficult to get assistance for anything (Unemployment Dept. penalizes you for taking temp jobs).....but I don't think that entitles businesses to treat people like slaves, parts, etc. Or, enjoy the benefits of being an American company, yet none of the responsibilites ie. sending all the jobs overseas, not paying their share of taxes. Are we already a 3-world-nation and don't even know it yet? What happens when the only jobs available are minimum wage?
At Enron, we were told over & over that we WERE the company, WERE the most vital asset, told to buy/hang onto stock, told to donate to the Bush campaign, watched Ken Lay primp himself to be on Bush's staff-----only to find we'd been conned like some old lady getting schmoozed by a grifter. Lots of people with stock got trick laid-off, go in for a meeting, fly accross the continent, only to find you've been invited to your own funeral & get walked out that minute. This layoff method was presented as some sort of Harvard Business school standard.
All this, because Enron pitted peers (everybody) against each other, and rewarded territory grabbers with more stock. Qualifications and work performance meant nothing, there was no ways of tracking work performed. You could be absolutely lazy, have no qualifications but destroy your peers by schmoozing the bosses, gross slander and looking like you were busy & POSH. Then you get more stock, & sell it!! before the company collapses. (Again, is anybody sick of the PERKY marketing sociopaths yet?? If I ever see another "thumbs-up" gesture again, I'll puke.)
This model too was presented as standard business school practice, so I'm sure it's spread over America. Intel pits peers against each other, but doesn't reward top backstabbers quite so heavily.
Anyway, Michael has brought out some stuff that I haven't heard too often, and I've since been listening to his talks on NPR. The only other person I'd ever heard care as much has burned out & dropped out.
I'd love for him to do an investigation of Enron and their "business school" practices, which I'm sure was a diversion--getting the rats in the cage to fight while top brass robbed the bank. Forget about the "Crooked E" movie, that was a Candyland version of the real filth...
I wonder if there's any Step-by-Step how-to's on how to deal with: peer reviews & peer competition to stay out of the bottom percentile (doomed to layoff, "burn & churn"), unlimited unpaid overtime, unreasonable management expectations, nasty tricks by HR with incentives to snag back stock options, Management saving a buck by hiring underskilled workers who're a burden on the rest, no tracking on work performance or skills, and other white collar slavery issues...
on July 3, 2004
i thoroughly enjoyed this documentary. i believe it is my first, so i didn't know what to expect going into it. michael moore, hands down, is a genius. not only in the literally sense, which quite honestly, he is, but also in his direction and style of directing to keep an audience. i was absolutely enthralled. i loved how he so easily mixed in humor with the serious subject of corporate downsizing. this documentary could have bored me to death, with in depth interviews that had no depth. enter michael moore, who adds in his humor, his satirical voice, as a guiding light in his effort to find out the truths to the reason why major companies, posting hefty profits, decide to lay off workers or ship production off to some foreign country. moore has a gift. he has the gift to make extremely hilarious documentaries, that in turn, help to shed some light on important issues. the way he can pose questions to bigwigs of large corportations that leave them completely speechless, you can't script that. you cant script that at all. he knows the questions that will leave bigwigs stunned and is not afraid to pound away at asking them. so thank you to moore, for creating a documentary that is both entertaining and informational. i felt i learned more from "the big one" than i have learned in a few weeks worth of school.
on February 15, 1999
While frequently funny and quite insightful, Michael Moore's follow-up to "Roger and Me" (1989) isn't quite up to the level of its predecessor. His take on corporate America's ruthless tendency to slash U.S. jobs in favor of low-cost labor overseas and his considerable sympathy for American workers is highly commendable - even laudatory in the age of "Armageddon". But, too often, Moore makes himself the subject of the docmentary and the film constantly pushes us to see him as the champion of the underdog. His confrontations with security personnel and junior hirelings at various corporate headquarters is becoming an old schtick by now - he acts perplexed every time he's ejected from some sleek office building although he knows darn well that he's not going anywhere: these scenes are inserted simply for a cheap shot at the impersonality of the conglomerates.
For all that, though, Moore has developed an appealingly rambanctious style of cienmatic populist muckracking using pranks, jokes, and anything else to "pull the p..s" out of his adversaries. He's effective when interviewing the very people squeezed out by the vicious "downsizing" of the 1980's and 1990's and his frank talk with Nike CEO, Phil Knight, eerily shows that even corporate ruthlessness can be embodied in an affable human personality. And he gets a lot of mileage with his stand-up routine against on-the-take politicans and self-justifying white-collar bosses. But he misses as many opportunities as he grabs - spending more screen time strumming with the guitarist from Cheap Trick than talking with Studs Terkel, who could have added a valuable historical perspective to the contemporary situation, and spending time playing shenanigans on his press agents when we'd really like to learn more about the working people whose cause he's defending. ("Roger and Me", which followed the lives of several people thrown out of work, provided a stronger human foundation for Moore to lob off his zingers). "The Big One" is like "Roger and Me"-lite. Moore give us more of his trademark stunts and humor and compassion but doesn't add anything that we haven't seen before. Moore's heart is in the right place and, based on the evidence presented here, he looks to be on the verge of becoming the first populist folk hero in some time. "The Big One", however, shows up the danger of taking your self-appointed role too seriously. The title may stand for America but I'm inclined to think Moore sees it as a self-tribute.
Like Moore's earlier film "Roger and Me", "The Big One" (Moore's tongue-in-cheek term for the large, all-encompassing corporate bohemoth that this country may eventually become) takes a disturbing yet often comical look at how Big Business is running roughshod over whatever is left of Corporate Responsibility in this country.
This film is alternatingly funny and deeply depressing. Mainly, however, you want to shake Moore's hand for having the chutzpah to shove a microphone and camera in Corporate America's faces and demand they explain their "outsourcing" actions directly to the faithful and long-term employees (generations of them, in some cases) who were unceremoniously dumped in favor of cheaper overseas or over-the-border labor.
These large corporations are selling America off piece by piece, in a way. They are giddily happy to lay off American workers by the thousands to make a few extra bucks, line their pockets a bit more, or hasten their Golden Parachute paydays.
Sure, a primary function of a business is to make money. But when doing so to such excess involves actions that could undermine America's already fragile socio-economic fabric on a relatively grand scale, then it becomes an issue of Conscience. Moore, like many of us, realizes this. Moore rushes up to the Corporate Big Dogs (or at least the highest-ranking ones he can find or the nearest media outlet he can find) and asks the questions we wish we could ask -- he expresses the common-man outrage we wish we could express. We all have motive, but Moore has motive AND opportunity.
Few of his theatrics will actually result in actual change, but perhaps they serve a higher purpose: to get us to wake up and realize that all is not well in America, that Big Business is making DAMN sure that the economic chasms between the haves and the have-nots will continue to expand, and that YOUR JOB IS NEVER, EVER GOING TO BE SAFE. The days of working for the same company from college 'til the day you retire are all but over. Your job can be taken away from you AT ANY TIME as soon as the powers-that-be at XYZ Corporation figure out that it can be economically profitable to throw your entire town out of work.
And the attendant problems that go with massive layoffs: increases in crime, suicides, etc.... Well, sorry! You should have gone to Harvard Business School, got an MBA or something, and snagged one of those rare, hard-to-get jobs where you just show up, meet with your Accounting, Finance, and Legal Departments, and start divvying up the pie you are about to share.
Enron, Worldcom, Pillsbury, Nike...... they aren't unique in their business practices. They are just the higher-profile ones we have all heard about. This kind of "morally and socially questionable" business practice happens everywhere.
Your company may be next. How much do you have in savings right now? You'd better check. And be afraid. Be very afraid.
on March 2, 1999
This excellent work details and exemplifies the statement by Kurt Vonnegut that, "The average American has stuffed his conscience down a manhole and wielded the lid shut." Michael Moore has shown that if he be a "Suit" as well, he's probably hired an assasin to shoot it if it ever miraculously emerges.
This is an excellent flic, and well worth watching. The next time the heartless corporate jerks who own your apartment building raise the rent another 25%, you'll have a better insight into the kind of people they really are; weak, cowardly and greedy. Michael reveals these hiding-behind-the-media-flak types for what they truly are. If you think all is well in America, this will profoundly upset your thinking, and will make you want to think about taking America back from the bankers and insurance companies who currently own it, and _you_. Mike shows that patriotism can also mean loving your own country enough to save it from the money-mad.
A very worthy effort!
on April 10, 2003
As other reviewers have pointed out, Roger & Me is hard to top because its an American classic, like Gone With The Wind (although admittedly not as funny).
Nonetheless The Big One is a hoot. And with the likes of George Junior and John Ashcroft literally running the world we might as well have one last laugh, don't you think?
on May 19, 2000
Michael Moore should be in the presidential cabinet. I don't care as what. Invent a position for him. First of all, he's funnier than...well, than a lot of people. Moore has a way of finding fault with some accepted part of the status quo and pointing it out in a way that one wonders why they didn't realize that it was ridiculous a long time ago. "The Big One" is hilarious, but it's a pointedly persuasive movie, too. An example: Moore recently (this is as of May 2000) became the campaign strategist for several Ficus plants running for office against incumbent and unopposed candidates. Moore says that the plants will do a far better job than the candidates who have been entering congress by default, and it doesn't need all the money that the candidates get, anyway. It does need, though, a little fertilizer, which according to Moore, it "should find plenty of in Washington." And of particular note is the segment on the video of Steve Forbes...just watch for it. Buy this movie!
on March 29, 2000
Let me start by saying that this film has many brilliant, provocative moments. I greatly admire Moore's spunk and persistence in skewering his deserving targets -- America's major corporations and their supporters. However, this is somewhat disappointing on the heels of Moore's first effort "Roger and Me." The main reason, I think, is because "Roger" had much more focus, and served as an interesting case study of how one corporation callously ignores human needs.
Michael Moore obviously tries to keep on the same track with this film, but it is obvious that he(probably unknowingly) unerestimated the way in which too much comic appeal can trivialize important issues. There are too many scenes with Moore doing his "stand-up" comic routine; not enough ones to highlight the hypocrisy of the corporate brass. It is interesting that Phil Knight, CEO at Nike, agrees to talk with Moore on camrera. I think it's because he is clever enough to realize that Moore had, at this time, already leaned so far in the direction of comedy, that nothing said would seriously register with the movie audience. (In fact, Knight comes across as a likable though misguided "straight man" for Moore). That's the disappointing element here. For most viewers, this will be a good laugh, and then it's back to exploitation of American workers as usual. Still, one hopes that there are enough out there who will, after laughing, say to themselves, "This is funny, but what's happening in America isn't. Something has to be done."
on May 31, 2003
I just saw this on tv and am amazed at what a great guy Michael Moore is. The movie / documentary is well written and produced.
Those that detract from the works of Moore are usually those of neo-Nixon flag waving brain dead variety. He doesn't attack capitalism, but rather the lack of duty CEO's have to the people of America, like how Nike wont produce shoes in the US (Nike.. the all American shoe..)
The documentary follows Michael across the US whilst on a book signing tour. During this tour, (unbeknown to the book publishers) looks out people being downsized in the cities he visits - and then goes on to try to help.
I can only imagine this movie was to get a point across, or at lease to make one think about one's surroundings. Either way he does both. Other detractors of this film claim he takes a childish, slapstick approach to dealing with his problems with "fat cat America" he doesn't. Infact the humor is not crude at all. He must be doing some thing right if he was invited to talk at Harvard.
A intelegant production by a true American.