Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" opened last week at a glittery premiere in Washington. There was a red carpet, press, photographers and an elite audience of liberals, left-wingers and, as Moore said, "People who believe in freedom and are against those who are trying to take it away from them."
I was there, not as a liberal or an "anti-Busher," but as a fair and objective journalist, who will go to any movie if it is free and the popcorn is on the house.
As people walked down the carpet, the cameras whirred. Every network and cable station was there. My companion suggested we walk through with paper bags on our heads in case the FBI or the Republican Party were taking pictures.
Michael Moore arrived and a roar went up from the audience. He took the mike onstage and said he knew he was talking to the choir of the converted, but since they were all asleep, he wanted his film to wake them up. After a lengthy speech, the house lights dimmed and the show was on.
I have been asked since then what I thought of the film. I give it 11/2 thumbs and one pinky, and I'm not just saying this to get my loyal and revered conservative readers upset.
Did I think it was fair to the administration?
Of course not.
Did I think it gave a balanced picture of how we got bogged down in Iraq?
Of course not.
Was the relationship between the Bushes and the House of Saud any reason for Moore to make it a focal point of the story? Probably not -- but it is only a film, and should not be accepted as completely true, any more than Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" should be.
Too many things in the movie were overdone. Moore used every shot of the president playing golf that he could find. I think it slowed down the action and the only people who were interested were golfers.
In his film, Moore used a real commercial for Halliburton. I found it informative because a spokesman for Halliburton explains exactly what the company does, which gives balance to the plot.
The funniest thing in the film was when Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, defended the USA Patriot Act at a news conference and gave out his telephone number to call if anyone thought his rights had been taken away. It turns out it was a phony number. As a practical joke, Moore listed Goss's real telephone number in the film.
The congressman didn't think it was as funny as Moore thought he would.
The film is rated R, which means children can't see it. But Harvey Weinstein, the executive producer, said the R stands for Republican.
You can either review "Fahrenheit 9/11" as a political tract or as entertainment, like "The Wizard of Oz." Moore's backers say they intended the movie to be both. They hope the box office receipts will fly over the rainbow and also affect the election.
I'll be honest. I've never seen a picture like this and I am an addicted movie fan.
Should Michael Moore have made this film?
Yes, but only if he wanted to prove it is a free country.
To give you some idea where I stand, after the picture was over, I did not get up when Michael Moore got a standing ovation.
(c) 2004, Tribune Media Services