In America you can steal an election and lie on TV and become president. That, you might say, is Dubya’s legacy after eight years of insufferable pain for those who still believe in the rule of law and plain Jane decency, none more so than investigative filmmaker and advocate of shapeless fashion, Michael Moore.

As the ex-Harvard party boy and failed oil exec dons a Stetson when schmoozing $1000-a-plate dinner dances in the lone star state, Moore shambles from campus podium to soapbox in thrift shop discards and trademark baseball cap. At least, with him, it feels genuine.

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Moore has been criticised over Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko, his film attacking US health care, as inaccurate and biased. Every documentary can be picked apart for leaning one way or the other. The process of editing ensures suspicion; what is left out has as much relevance as what is kept in. With Moore, however, it’s personal. He is so passionate, full on and committed that his Joe Blow style is interpreted as aggressive and confrontational. Republicans call him a communist, or, at least, some do, while female students wear T-shirts with the legend HUG ME MICHAEL across their chests.

Slacker Uprising records an extraordinary 60-city tour in 2004, culminating in Tallahassee, Florida, on the eve of the election, when the son of Read My Lips faced Gentleman John Kerry in a nail-biting contest for The White House. Moore’s motivation for undertaking such an exhaustive schedule of appearances, mainly at universities, was to get the kids off their butts and into the polling booths. He gave away pot noodles and underwear as an incentive. Naturally, certain Republicans wanted to prosecute him for bribery and corruption (Noodlegate) to which Moore replied: “Someone has stolen a sense of humour in Michigan.”

As a celebrity he is an unlikely hero. He looks like a truck driver and makes no attempt at smartening himself up for the cameras, yet his down-home communication skills make George W sound like a bad actor with an overwritten script. His shows, if that is what they are, tend to repeat, not unnaturally since there are only so many ways of telling students to wake up and smell the freedom, with the result that guest stars are introduced, mainly to sing songs and entertain at a melty, nostalgic level – Steve Earl, Joan Biaz, REM, Viggo Mortensen (he speaks) and the guy from Nine Inch Nails.

Moore is touchy feely, a hugger by instinct – the bear hug – who believes in giving the opposition enough screen time to mutilate their argument, which is why he encourages hecklers and (possibly) plays games in the editing suite to ensure they come over as pompous prats.

The film is an ego trip, of course, as well as a heartfelt plea to a nation hypnotised by the concept of a war on terror. Moore’s response to Bush’s narrow victory is not recorded – wisely.

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2009
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Slacker Uprising packshot
Michael Moore goes out on the road to persuade students to vote and stop George Dubya's second term as Mr Pres.
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Director: Michael Moore

Writer: Michael Moore

Year: 2007

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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