“Bowling for Columbine” is a remarkable piece of documentary filmmaking. Michael Moore manages to top “Roger & Me” with this audacious chronicle of America’s gun culture, he vacillates between riotous humor and social satire and soul sapping tragedy and sadness. Occasionally he overreaches as he attempts to understand America’s fascination with guns and the brutal violence that ensues as a result (as in the case of saddling America’s military industrial complex and foreign policy with most of the blame for much of our nation’s domestic social ills), but in his relentless search for answers, he posits many provocative questions which are not asked frequently enough. Searching beyond the easy answers and deconstructing some of the all too familiar arguments, it’s a welcome addition to the national debate, which while not always on the money, is consistently thoughtful, smart and thoroughly satisfying. None more so than when two of the wounded Columbine students demand K-Mart stop selling the ammunition that permanently disabled them…and win.
If nothing else, Moore’s vivid illustration of the triumph of the underdog is more important than ever in this era of Operation Tips and the slow erosion of our civil liberties.