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Bowling For Columbine (2002) - Movie Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Bowling For Columbine (2002) - Movie Review

Michael Moore with Gun in Bowling For Columbine

Michael Moore

The Bottom Line

Spurred on by the 1999 tragic killings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Michael Moore sets out to find out what's behind America's gun culture. Traveling across the United States and into Canada, Moore interviews legislators and government officials, NRA members and gun control advocates, celebrities and the brother of bomber Terry Nichols. He discovers that there's no simple explanation for Columbine incident, nor for the extraordinarily high incidence of violence in the U.S., but he does uncover many shocking symptoms that deserve examination and the search for their cures.
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  • A satirical and searing indictment of America's love affair with guns.
  • Offers insight into how and why the tragic shootings at Columbine High School could occur.
  • Shows how individuals can make a difference--Columbine survivors got K-Mart to stop selling bullets.


  • Sometimes Moore's sniper tactics and sanctimonious stance make him seem unsympathetic.


  • Release: Premiere, Cannes Film Festival, May 15, 2002. US Theatrical, October 11, 2002. DVD, December 11, 2007
  • Running Time: 120 minutes
  • MPAA Rating: Rated R for some violent images and language Parental Advisory: View content advisory for parents.
  • Distribution: Alliace Atlantis Communicatons/United Artists
  • Moore opens an account in a Michigan bank that gives depositors guns as premiums. He leaves the bank with rifle in hand.
  • Moore buys bullets at the barber shop where he's having his hair cut.
  • Moore rings the door bell of NRA President Charlton Heston, and interviews him about whether Americans need to own guns.
  • Moore shows Heston a snapshot of a girl shot by a boy in her class. Refusing to look at the photo, Heston walks away.
  • Shock rocker Marilyn Manson says violence in America is caused by a government that keeps citizens in constant fear.
  • In his stand-up routine, Chris Rock says if bullets cost $5000 each, there'd be no accidental shootings.

Guide Review - Bowling For Columbine (2002) - Movie Review

The film's oddly ironic title refers to the fact that on the morning before they walked into Columbine High School and opened fire on their peers and teachers, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went bowling.

The title sets the tone for Moore's entertaining but pointed investigation about the way guns and violence permeate the American way of life. Using the direct and somewhat confrontational style we've seen in his Roger & Me, Moore plays the role of protagonist, and question both big wigs and ordinary citizens, and diverse Canadians, asking for their opinions about the underlying causes of America's propensity for violence.

Why Canadians? Because of the surprising comparative stats: the United States records more than 11,000 murders per year, but Canada, which has higher unemployment rates and a very high gun to citizen ratio--about seven million guns registered in ten million households--has much fewer gun killings per year. That would seem to indicate that the violence isn't coincidental to gun ownership--because Canadians own more guns per person, but shoot fewer people with them.

Moore questions whether the preponderance of violence in America's entertainment media is to blame. But violent American movies and television shows are watched avidly in Japan and France, and both of those countries have low murder statistics.

The film is never stat heavy or dull. Moore effectively employs archival footage, animation and music to keep the film's pace lively and engaging. He never suggests concrete answers to the questions he poses, but he and those whom he interviews give us a lot to think about.

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