Michael Moore in TrumpLand (2016)
Directed by Michael Moore
After Michael Moore filmed the one-man show he performed in Wilmington, Ohio, it only took 12 days for him to edit the footage and release “TrumpLand” in theaters. Maybe he should have spent more time on it. Moore’s political reasoning is sound. As a former Bernie Sanders supporter who now thinks electing Hillary Clinton is the best way forward, I’m right there with Moore. And maybe “TrumpLand” isn’t for me. He does spend a lot of time meeting Trump supporters where they are, acknowledging their rightful frustration with the system. But what he presents is neither a well thought out, nor particularly original argument. We’ve heard it all before. So an “October surprise” I don’t think this makes.
Wilmington is a red-blooded steak-and-potatoes sort of conservative town, close to Kentucky in geography and politics. That was exactly the kind of audience Moore hoped for. His audience began almost entirely unreceptive to his anti-Trump message. It made for many awkward moments. But his jokes just weren’t landing to them, they weren’t landing at all. They just weren’t funny. Thankfully, he turned some of them around with an impassioned case for a pragmatic leader. He asked why they hated Hillary and tried to address their concerns. But whereas his other documentaries have been researched and fact-based, “TrumpLand” is a lot of Moore editorializing, generalizing, steering the conversation off-track too often over the course of its 80 minutes. Moore is not a stand-up comedian. But he does add some things to the conversation. He warns against using the election as an anger management tool, putting it in terms any frustrated middle class American can understand. Moore’s humble roots have always kept him grounded. Few celebrities of his stature could give this sort of talk and feel like the election’s outcome will affect their life as much as ours. So Moore is the voice to give this talk. I’m just not sure it’ll do any good.