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Big One (the)

In 1998, employment was high, and Pres. Clinton's economy got good ratings, yet Michael Moore crisscrossed the U.S. on a book tour, and found factories closing, corporations shipping jobs overseas, and couples working extra to make ends meet. A mother with three jobs in Centralia, Illinois, says, "I only see my kids on weekends.' Ironically, locals lost jobs when a Payday Candy Bar factory closed.

Moore is famous for his hilarious 1989, "Roger & Me,' in which he turned the imagery of corporate America on itself. Now he shows us that if unemployment is low, that doesn't mean the mother in Centralia is okay. And what about workers at Johnson Products in Milwaukee, which celebrated $500 million in profits by closing its factory and moving to Mexico? Moore presents JP a Downsizer of the Year Award, and a check for 80 cents: "The first hour's pay for a Mexican worker.'

Moore lectures campus crowds, confronts security guards, sympathizes with striking workers at a Borders Bookstore, and remains an unapologetic liberal, pro-union, anti-fat cat. The movie is smart and funny, and we get two documentaries for one: One is about book tours, with Moore on a grueling schedule of a city a day, no sleep, endless talk shows and book signings, plus his guerrilla raids on down-sizers. Security guards Moore banters with as they eject him from factories mostly don't even work for the companies they guard: The movie's most startling statistic is that the largest employer in America is Manpower, the temp agency.

Moore at last lands an interview with Nike's CEO, Phil Knight, whose Indonesian workers are paid a few dollars a day. Knight's case: Shoe factories help Indonesia's economy, and, "Americans don't want to make shoes.' But what about Indonesia's genocide against minorities? "How many people died in the Cultural Revolution?' Knight responds.

Will Americans make shoes? Moore returns to Flint to ask citizens to rally, if so. Turnout might have been low, due to the cold day, but Moore used low-angle shots to conceal that. Maybe the issue isn't whether poor Americans want to make shoes, but why Indonesian-made shoes cost $150 a pair. Moore's overall conclusion: Large American corporations care more for stockholders than for workers, and no profit level is high enough. If he'd gotten more top executives on camera, their response would likely have been: "Yes. And?'
Director(s): Michael Moore
Writer(s): Michael Moore
Cast: Moore and interviewees
Release Date: 1998   
Keyword: downsizing, Michael Moore, Indonesian shoemakers
Target Age: 10+   Category: political
Documentary: yes
Language: English   Reviewer's Name: Micah
Review: http://MRQE
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