Love the guy or loathe him, there's little denying that Michael Moore crafts some pretty colorful and challenging projects. You might dismiss the guy as a left-wing crackpot, but you probably had a pretty good time while formulating that opinion. Moore's feature documentaries (Roger & Me, The Big One, Bowling for Columbine, and Fahrenheit 9/11) are filled with brazen and frequently hostile attacks on Corporate America, Gun Control, Politics, and Our President...
Let's just say that those who share Mr. Moore's views and opinions will find a lot to love in these movies, while those who don't will have an equally good time building up a healthy disdain for the guy. Me, I generally dig what Moore has to say -- even if I do agree that the guy's a self-promoter and semi-manipulator in the vein of P.T. Barnum.
But I do think Michael Moore has done a lot of good, in the grand scheme of things. And there's ample evidence to be found in The Awful Truth, which ran for two Bravo seasons back in 1999-2000. And, yes, you'll also find ample evidence of Moore's particular brand of self-adoration, too.
Although both seasons of The Awful Truth have already been released on DVD, that didn't deter the Docurama folks from releasing a 6-episode compilation called The Best of The Awful Truth. Those who already own both season sets can pass on by, but the Moore-curious who are in the mood for a solid sampling of the series' best moments should consider this platter a worthwhile rental.
Included in this re-package are the following episodes:
Season 1, Episode 1: Moore stages a literal witch hunt in response to Ken Starr's trial against former President Clinton's stupid sex life. A dying man who was screwed over by his insurance company finds a crusader in Michael Moore, who promptly storms the headquarters and stages a mock funeral.
Season 1, Episode 3: Disneyland gets a visit from Crackers the Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken. Moore leads a shamelessly tacky gang of "voice box carolers" through the halls of Big Tobacco.
Season 1, Episode 12: "Nafta Mike" accompanies a laid-off American auto-worker down to Mexico, in an effort to see where all the jobs are going. Moore tries to throw an impromptu wedding service during the Chrysler/Daimler merger celebration.
Season 2, Episode 1: Moore tries to convince several Presidential candidates to leap into a mosh pit. "Pistol Pete" has a muddled plan for becoming the next NRA mascot.
Season 2, Episode 3: Moore stages an excellent intervention for a group of illegal immigrants who got shafted by Holiday Inn. A streetwise bill collector tries to squeeze some reparations out of BMW.
Season 2, Episode 5: Moore enters a ficus tree into a New Jersey Congressional race. Things quickly spiral out of control.
The collection is a mixed bag, really. The mock funeral and the Holiday Inn story are really excellent, but then we have the painfully ugly "voice box chorus" segment and the NRA bit that just rambles around without making a point. For the most part, this is some pretty good television: An outspoken advocate who actually goes out and inspires some change, and does so in fairly entertaining fashion. He may not hit the bullseye every time out, but (for all his self-idolation) Michael Moore still goes out there and tries to right a few wrongs.
And even if you think Moore's an obnoxious, manipulative, self-adoring schlub, you'll probably find a few things in The Awful Truth you can get behind.
Video: The episodes are presented in their original fullscreen format. Picture quality is a little on the soft side, but most of The Awful Truth was shot with handheld video cameras, so that's to be expected.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 and documentary-style all the way. No problems on the whole.
Extras: Moore provides semi-interesting audio commentary on two of the episodes, neither of which were recorded for this specific DVD package. Also included are a textual Michael Moore Biography, some info About Docurama, and a bunch of trailers for Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides, and The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hills.
I can see both sides of the equation here: While I do consider myself a fan of Moore's work, I can easily understand why other folks can't stand the guy. Either way, there's some pretty good stuff in The Awful Truth, regardless of what side of the political fence you scream from.