The Big One

* * 1/2*

Michael Moore, best known for his anti-GM documentary Roger and Me, has set himself up as the working man's hero. He prides himself in sticking it to corporations where it hurts, and never taking his focus off the little guy. The Big One is his latest documentary (a welcome change of pace after his abysmal Canadian Bacon), and in it, he does what he does best.

During 1996, Moore undertakes a multi-city book tour to promote his book, Downsize This: Random Threats From An Unarmed American. He brings along a film crew, ostensibly to document the tour, but he has another agenda in mind.

Big corporations have been reveling in Wall Street's billion dollar profits, and yet layoffs and downsizing continue to be the norm. Moore uses his book tour as the basis of a quest to find someone who can tell him why.

As he travels from city to city, the story randomly unfolds. Sometimes he is simply meeting with laid off employees at his book signing. At other times he talks with employees struggling to form a union. And then there are his classic corporate ambushes, where, with film crew in hand, he tries to force his way in to meet with a CEO, to deliver such awards as "Downsizer of the Year", or a check to pay the first hour of the first Mexican worker in a company's new plant.

Moore's corporate humor, while obviously biased, is apt, and the highlight of the film. He stumbles a bit when he ventures into political humor however. The 1996 campaign already seems like the distant past, and is only going to seem more and more dated.

The film is never quite as biting as Roger and Me. Some of this arises from the impromptu feel of the film, but overall his antics seem much more forced here. The "in-your-face" school of journalism is at full force here. A lot of the film is composed of cheap shots...but they're funny cheap shots.

If you enjoyed Roger and Me, The Big One delivers more of the same (just not in the same dose). Moore's offbeat brand of humor should have something to slightly amuse nearly anybody, even if you don't quite agree with his politics.

[PG-13 - for some strong language] (Miramax)


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