Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Roger & Me

  • Rating: *****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Home use: $89.95
  • Date: Copyright 1989. Released 1990.
  • Descriptors: Unemployment - Flint (Michigan). General Motors Corporation. Smith, Roger. Flint (Michigan) - Economic conditions.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer. Produced by Michael Moore. Color. Closed captioned. 94 min.
  • Production Company: Dog Eat Dog Films
  • Available from: most major distributors
  • Cataloging: 331.137 Plant shutdowns||Automobile industry workers||General Motors Corporation
  • Awards: National Society of Film Critics Year's Best, 1989.
  • Print Entry #: 1:1890
  • Reviewer: Beth Blenz-Clucas

    One of the most raved about and sharply criticized films of 1989, Roger & Me is now available on video. It is one of the most important documentary purchases that libraries will make this year.

    Producer Michael Moore returned to his hometown of Flint, Michigan, in 1986 after a brief stint in California. During the next year, the massive General Motors plants that had been the lifeblood of the town were marked for closure. GM chairman Roger Smith had decided to move the auto and truck assembly plants to Mexico where labor was cheaper, and as a result, more than 30,000 of the city's 150,000 residents lost their jobs. Flint quickly became a virtual ghost town, crime rates soared, and many displaced workers were faced with devastating poverty. Interspersed throughout the rest of the film are Moore's attempts to track down Smith for a comment on the layoffs. It becomes clear that Smith is purposely evading Moore.

    Producer Moore captures with biting humor the indifference of the lucky few who are unaffected by the layoffs, depicting them at a lavish "Great Gatsby" party, and celebrating the opening of a new jail with a gala in which the well-to-do pay $100 to stay the night. In the face of rising hostility among the town's residents, GM sponsors celebrity shows designed to boost morale. It is comical to watch Anita Bryant exude Florida sunshine juxtaposed against the appalling hopelessness of families evicted from their homes.

    Critics of the film have pointed to chronological inaccuracies in Moore's story. Moore himself has responded that many of these detractors had agendas of their own (New York Times, 15 July 1990). Most of the faults of the film are minor compared with the main point of the film, which faithfully documents the social effects of corporate irresponsibility.

    Is Michael Moore fair to Roger Smith and GM? He certainly makes a strong case against the megacompany's tight-fisted policies during a time when their profits were soaring. This is an important documentary that will spark interesting discussion about corporate greed and individual responsibility in changing economic times. Highly recommended.

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