You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Captain Mike Across America

"Captain Mike Across America" is Michael Moore's ungainly account of his "Slacker Uprising" campaign to encourage young people to vote for John Kerry.

With: Viggo Mortensen, Joan Baez, Roseanne Barr, Steve Earle, Eddie Vedder, Michael Stipe.

One could easily carve an interesting hour-long docu out of “Captain Mike Across America,” Michael Moore’s ungainly account of his “Slacker Uprising” campaign to encourage young people to vote for John Kerry — and, more importantly, against George W. Bush — during the 2004 U.S. presidential election. In its current form, however, this repetitious and self-indulgent hodgepodge comes across as a nostalgia-drenched vanity project, with far too much footage of various celebs at assorted gatherings introing Moore as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Theatrical potential is slim, but grassroots circulation of DVDs might prove useful in get-out-the-vote drives for 2008.

More of a genuine “road movie” than anything Moore has made since “The Big One” (1997), “Captain Mike” details the maverick documaker’s cross-country crusade throughout swing states that could have tipped the ’04 electoral balance.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Moore visits 62 cities in 45 days, usually appearing at college campuses to rally the youth vote in a valiant but ultimately vain attempt “to save John Kerry and the Democrats from themselves” after Kerry failed to respond quickly and decisively to swift-boating smears.

By turns sardonic and impassioned, Moore gets big laughs (and, even more hilariously, encourages Republican-generated legal challenges) when he offers ramen noodles or clean underwear to slackerish students who promise to register to vote. But his buffoonery is more apparent than real, a point made abundantly clear whenever Moore launches into a furious rant against the horrors of the Iraq War and the failings of the commander-in-chief.

Here and there, one is reminded of Moore’s under-rated oratorical skills as a stem-winder. Indeed, he is taken very serious by well-to-do conservatives who actually try to bribe campus officials into “disinviting” Moore from a few colleges.

Moore scores points as he turns the tables at a press conference while responding to questions about the “propaganda” content of “Fahrenheit 9/11.” (In his view, “Fahrenheit” provided “anti-propaganda” to counterbalance mainstream media support for the Iraq invasion.)

And while the scenes showcasing strident and/or clueless pro-Bush protestors at Moore appearances are cheap shots, the fact remains that the protestors hang themselves with their own words.

Trouble is, “Captain Mike Across America” focuses too intently on Moore himself, and too little on students who actually were radicalized by his proselytizing. Musical performances by such notables as Joan Baez, R.E.M. and Eddie Vedder suggest that the pic might have worked better as a sort of “Concert for Bangladesh” rockumentary with Moore as master of ceremonies.

But Moore appears determined to give his more relentless critics fresh ammunition by casting himself as the star of the piece. Indeed, had Norman Mailer not already beaten him to it, he could have titled the project “Advertisements for Myself.” As for the title he actually did use — ’nuff said.

Much like “Al Franken: And God Spoke,” “Captain Mike” cops out at the end by not directly addressing the aftermath of the 2004 election. After spending so much time with folks gleefully awaiting the ouster of a sitting president, the aud naturally expects a thoughtful post-mortem by the disappointed crusaders. Based on what appears on screen here, however, Moore (like Franken) simply didn’t know how to deal with Bush’s re-election. So he didn’t. At least, not on screen.

Tech values are adequate.

Popular on Variety

Captain Mike Across America


Production: A Weinstein Co. release of a Dog Eat Dog Films production. Produced by Monica Hampton. Executive producers, Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein. Directed, written by Michael Moore.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Bernardo Loyola; editors, Loyola, David Feinberg; sound (Dolby Digital), Francisco Latorre, Noah Vivekanand Timan; associate producer, Jason Pollock; assistant director,. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentation), Sept. 8, 2007. Running time: 99 MIN.

With: With: Viggo Mortensen, Joan Baez, Roseanne Barr, Steve Earle, Eddie Vedder, Michael Stipe.

More Film

  • Germany's Leonine Buys ‘Dark’ and '4

    German Indie Studio Leonine Buys ‘Dark’ and '4 Blocks' Producer W&B TV

    Leonine has acquired “Dark” producer W&B TV from Endemol Shine. Fledgling German studio Leonine had already bought Wiedemann & Berg Film and established itself as a Munich-based movies, TV, and digital production and distribution group. It has now added the W&B TV unit to its roster. The production company is behind several big German dramas [...]

  • iHuman

    Cinephil Acquires AI-Themed Political Thriller Documentary 'iHuman' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Tel Aviv-based Cinephil has acquired worldwide rights to Tonje Hessen Schei’s (“Drone”) “iHuman,” a political thriller documentary about artificial intelligence, power and social control. U.S.-based sales agent ro*co films is representing North America on the film, which will have its world premiere in the Frontlight section of Amsterdam’s International Documentary Film Festival. “iHuman” follows the [...]

  • 'Feast of the Seven Fishes' Review:

    Film Review: 'Feast of the Seven Fishes'

    Early on in “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” two characters debate the optimal way to decorate a house for Christmas. One favors an “understated” approach, with white lights and little more; the other argues that the holidays are no time for subtlety, advocating green, red and gold sparkle as far as the semi-blinded eye can [...]

  • Queen & Slim

    AFI Fest Film Review: 'Queen & Slim'

    Going to the movies can feel a lot like agreeing to a blind date: It’s normal to feel a little wary — but also a bit excited — at the potential before agreeing to spend two hours with characters you don’t know. If the film is any good, it wins you over early on, enough [...]

  • Steven Spielberg Branko Lustig

    'He Left Me Speechless': Steven Spielberg Remembers Branko Lustig

    Steven Spielberg has offered a touching remembrance of Branko Lustig, the Holocaust survivor who produced “Schindler’s List” with Spielberg and Gerald Molen and died Thursday in Croatia. “I was heartbroken to hear of Branko’s passing and my thoughts are with his family and friends,” Spielberg said. “When we first met to discuss ‘Schindler’s List,’ he [...]

  • Dylan Brosnan and Paris BrosnanGolden Globe

    Pierce Brosnan’s Sons Paris and Dylan Brosnan Named 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors

    Pierce Brosnan’s two youngest sons, Paris and Dylan Brosnan, have been named as the 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced on Thursday evening. Paris and Dylan are also the sons of journalist and author Keely Shaye Smith. The ambassador(s), a title that typically goes to the son or daughter of a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content