THE AWFUL TRUTH
The Complete First Season
Review by Michael Jacobson
Director: Michael Moore
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: Michael Moore Bio, “Moore Awful Truths”
Length: 300 Minutes
Release Date: October 31, 2000
American Public is a lot smarter than it’s given credit for.” –
a difference a season makes! I’m
actually glad that I got to see the second season of Michael Moore’s The
Awful Truth before seeing Season One. The
latter to me was as healthy and as smart a collection of satire as I had seen in
many a year. The former?
A bit of a different story.
Moore is a bit too full of himself in his first season.
Even the shows’ introduction proclaims over and over again, “But
there was ONE MAN…” Instead of
going to the streets of New York as he would do in his follow up season, he
stages the whole show in an auditorium, with himself as sole host.
There are two basic problems with this set up:
number one, he’s not funny enough to serve as a stand-up comedian, try
as he might. And number two,
there’s really nothing to offset his constant, irritating liberal
collection of pieces range from the very smart and funny, if occasionally in
questionable taste, to the downright repulsive. For an example of Moore at his best, watch the “Funeral at
an HMO” bit, where a man who has paid an HMO for seven years on a policy meant
to cover everything related to his diabetes is denied a pancreas transplant that
would save his life. Moore actually
stages a full mock funeral for the poor fellow right out in front of the
insurance company’s headquarters, complete with mourners and hearse.
good stuff, and it makes a helluva good point, but unfortunately, some of The
Awful Truth focuses more on “awful” and less on “truth”.
Does anybody really want to see a sketch about a fake school that teaches
little kids to shoot better (in which Moore complains, for example, that the
Columbine kids were a disgrace for having so many targets and killing so
relatively few)? If Moore thinks a
bit like that is either funny or intelligent, he’s nauseatingly short-sited.
as a walking liberal lexicon wears a bit thin as the series progresses, too.
He carefully chooses what facts to reveal and what facts to brush aside
when attacking Walt Disney World for its employment practices (he actually talks
to workers who play the characters at the theme park, who complain about how low
their wages are…and I was thinking, how much could you want for putting on a
costume and waving for a half hour at a time?).
He repeatedly echoes the far and wide (and false) sentiment that former
President Clinton was impeached because of his sexual affairs, while never
pointing out the real reason was because he lied under oath in a court of law.
times, Moore tries to do what he does best, which is confronting major
corporations (see Roger and Me), but even then, he displays a complete
lack of brainpower in how he goes about it.
He sends costumed characters like Crackers the Corporate Crime Fighting
Chicken, or even Joe Camel, into companies’ headquarters and wonders why they
get thrown out so quickly. What did
he hope to accomplish? Nothing
would be my guess, because that’s exactly what he DOES accomplish.
If someone masked and costumed came into YOUR place of business,
wouldn’t you call security or the police, too?
most absurd is his gay rights piece, where he travels a troupe of homosexual men
in a big pink RV labeled…get this…the Sodomobile, where he takes them from
state to state, parks the vehicle, and allows his merry men to engage in open
sexual practices in public. I’m
very much against discrimination of any kind myself, but you HAVE to ask Michael
Moore one question…did this little stunt of his strengthen his cause, or
that I’ve said my piece against Moore’s more questionable antics, I have to
take a moment and give him some credit for the pieces that ARE both funny and
smart. Remember Lucianne Goldberg?
She was the woman who persuaded Linda Tripp to record the infamous Monica
Lewinsky phone calls that set the whole Clinton investigation in motion.
Moore argues that SHE, therefore, was most responsible for the months and
months of lurid detail we had to live through as a country, and gets his revenge
by installing a web cam outside of her New York apartment window, along with a
site that could be accessed 24 hours a day by anybody…it’s a great lesson in
the 4th Amendment (which Lucy later admits she doesn’t know)!
good bit is when Moore arrives at both the Indian and Pakistani
Embassies…considering both nations are fairly young nuclear powers, he figured
it was about time for them and their citizens to learn the ropes…roll those
“duck and cover” films!
Awful Truth Season
One is a decidedly mixed bag…Moore seemed to get a little bit better and less
self-promoting in his second year. I
started with the follow-up season myself, and would therefore recommend that
double disc set as a better starting point than the premiere season.
program quality wasn’t the only improvement come Season Two…the video
quality stepped up as well. Here,
with a simple stage setting, there is less attention paid to lighting, color,
and detail. There is a bit of grain
and haziness noticeable from time to time, especially against black backgrounds.
Colors are a bit flatter and images softer throughout.
Not that this kind of program requires a stellar video presentation, but
as always, I have to call ‘em like I see ‘em.
programming style doesn’t make much demands on the stereo audio…dialogue is
well rendered throughout, as are the frequent musical cues.
Most of the dynamic range comes from the loud introductions.
All in all, a workable audio track.
disc contains a bio for Michael Moore, plus some additional “Awful Truth”
poll facts (though some of them are merely replicated from the programs).