Roger & Me

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100%

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Total Count: 30

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 19,976
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Movie Info

Michael Moore's wickedly iconoclastic documentary was inspired by the decline and fall of Flint, Michigan. Once the site of a thriving General Motors plant, Flint went quickly to seed when GM decided to close down and move out. As Moore pokes around what has been described by one magazine as "the worst place to live in America", he finds out how the local populace is coping with GM's betrayal of the American Dream. Among those visited are a family who is evicted just before Christmas, and an enterprising middle-aged woman who set up a thriving business slaughtering and skinning rabbits. Never feigning objectivity, Moore contrasts the impact of the shutdown on the average Joes and Janes with the diffident reaction of Flint's power elite. The latter's patronizing attitude towards the unemployed multitudes is succinctly captured in the scenes in which visiting celebrities Robert Schuller, Anita Bryant, Bobby Vinton and Pat Boone exhort the citizenry to grin and bear it. Even more out of synch is "Miss Michigan" Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, who in her morale-boosting speech to the disenfranchised GM employees begs them to pull for her in the upcoming Miss America pageant! The film's throughline is Moore's futile effort to locate GM chairman Roger Smith, so that he can show Moore first-hand the utter devastation of Flint. Roger & Me is very funny, but it is the gallows humor of soldiers about to embark on a suicide mission. In 1992, Michael Moore more or less updated Roger & Me with his half-hour short subject Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint.

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Critic Reviews for Roger & Me

All Critics (30)

Audience Reviews for Roger & Me

  • Sep 29, 2018
    25 years before the water crisis, Michael Moore captured the period when Flint, Michigan began its decline from being "Vehicle City", with a good deal of manufacturing jobs and innovation, to a city struggling with unemployment and crime. One of the key turning points was GM closing plants in order to move production to Mexico, where the labor pool was cheaper. Throughout this documentary Moore tries to get access to GM CEO Roger Smith, but Smith wants nothing to do with him (and as his first film, this is even before Moore became well-known). We do see a GM lobbyist/spokesman who explains the company's position, and he does have a point - employees are not promised a lifetime of security by their employer, and Smith needed the company to be competitive. However, it's tough to process this message when Smith is making millions of dollars, and those at the bottom, his workers, are being evicted from their homes. Moore does a fantastic job putting all of this in context, and it's highly ironic that Flint was the site where the power of the United Auto Workers union was once wielded so effectively. In a sit-down strike within the plant itself, it stopped all production for six weeks in 1937 before the company gave in to some of their demands. In the era of globalization the union is crippled by GM simply going around them to Mexico. One of the workers interviewed is quite perceptive in also noting that the union is weaker because union leaders have gotten too close to company management. Moore also captures quite a bit of footage showing average people, and juxtaposing it with the completely tone-deaf, out of touch, and entitled rich, who show little sympathy. When one old lady hits a golf ball while speculating the unemployed are that way because they're lazy, it makes the blood boil. They're also mind numbing at a lavish 'Great Gatsby' party, complete with hiring a few people to pose in a frozen position as if they're statues, and then later at a 'Jailhouse' party, where the night before a large new prison is opened (you know, to handle the wave of crime), they're allowed to party and sleep in a jail cell. It's all a giant game to them, and they insist that Flint is a great place to be. We also see various civic leaders, entertainers, and preachers brought in trying to pump up crowds with pep talks, performances, and sermons, and while they may have had the best of intentions, it also comes across as failing to address the main issue. Instead of discussing corporate/shareholder greed, and the wealth gap in America which would begin widening shortly afterwards (and remain a huge issue to this day), the emphasis is on the people at the bottom - what they should be doing to keep the faith, to consider it an opportunity a blessing in disguise, to stay motivated, to perhaps uproot and find employment elsewhere, etc. Oftentimes we see a beaming, cheerful, optimistic face (and yes, white with some degree of affluence) spouting platitudes; we never see them criticize GM, have a nuanced discussion about ways to make the situation more fair, or even show a little more gravitas. The schemes the city cooks up are absolutely disastrous, including opening a theme park and getting a luxurious Hilton built, costing millions and millions of precious dollars, and closing shortly afterwards. While I admire Moore for the film, there were a couple of moments that made me cringe. The first is when he keeps after Miss Michigan (who would go on to become Miss America), who is there for a parade, and initially gives some superficial answers when he asks her what she thinks of the layoffs. It just seems a little off target, even if her smiling face and the parade are ironic in light of the misery in the town. Far worse, though, is when he shows a lady kill and then butcher a bunny, in what is an extended (and very graphic) sequence. There is absolutely no reason to include this, since he's already established the fact that this lady grows rabbits to both eat and sell, in order to try to eke out an existence. I was so disgusted and disappointed that I considered lowering my review score, but cut Moore some slack because of how important I think the film was. Just beware, it's after the 1 hour point (but no, I'm not going to go seek it out and get a more precise time). Moore is accused of being biased, but what we see here are true events and real people. In this film, he gives us a window into what would become a growing trend in America, and was ahead of his time in doing so. What makes us so uncomfortable is not some agenda he has, it's that we know what we're seeing is wrong ... and yet, nothing changes.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 24, 2013
    Michael Moore's directorial debut Roger & Me is a well made documentary about the impact of General Motors closing an automobile plant in Flint, Michigan, Michael Moore's hometown. Moore paints a great portrait of a town hit hard by the plant closing. This is a very good documentary that illustrates the consequences of what happens to a town, when a major industry shuts down. Michael Moore creates a good film that is a must see if you love his films. Moore goes in depth with his subject and gives the viewer an entertaining journey as he seeks out to uncover the story of the unemployment in Flint. Michael Moore direction is wonderful, and he always manages to capture something special on film. With this film, you see what the GM plant closing in Flint has done to a once proud town. Stores have closed, families have become homeless and others have resorted to crime. Roger & Me is a fine debut film that showcases Moore's talents as a filmmaker. Although not his best, we get see Moore's flair in making an effective documentary that just grabs your attention from start to finish. I really enjoyed the film and despite its serious tone, there are a few light hearted moments that is a typical aspect of a Michael Moore documentary. Give it a shot, you make like, but this is a film that is basically for Michael Moore fans. Roger & Me is a great debut, and one that launched Moore into a memorable film career in making movies that makes you ask questions and exposes subject that many people wouldn't<t normally care about due to the fact that these are stories that seem to fall on deaf ears, but once they are told through Michael Moore's camera, they become ingrained in your thought pattern.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jul 27, 2012
    My first exposure to Michael Moore is perhaps the best. This is Moore before the ego and with a degree of humbleness that works very effectively.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2010
    A fantastic documentary from Michael Moore, his hometown is a subject he knows a lot about, but it's more than that really, and I highly recommend this movie, even if you don't like documentaries.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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