The deep chasm between the haves and have-nots opens wide in 1989?s Roger and Me, Michael Moore’s hilariously scathing documentary. In this breakthrough film, which put the future Academy Award winner on the map, Moore takes up the case of his hometown, Flint, Michigan, a city sucker-punched by the American Dream. The city has been decimated since the 1980s, after the closing of General Motors plants put tens of thousands out of work.
As the self-appointed representative of the people of Flint, Moore embarks on a quixotic quest to find GM’s then-chairman, Roger Smith, and get to the bottom of things. Moore sketches his case in broad strokes, allowing the corporate fat cats to shoot themselves in the foot either in interviews or in candid footage, meanwhile intercutting a tragic series of local foreclosures and evictions.
All the while, Moore’s camera proves an utterly disarming presence, and even those familiar with the media spotlight — including Flint native Bob Eubanks and former Chevy spokesman Pat Boone — seem caught unawares, looking foolish at best and heartless at worst. In the end, Big Business and the rich appear indifferent and even cruel, while everyone else seems mindless, deluded, or just recently homeless. This makes for an often wickedly funny yet disturbing film that asks tough questions about corporate responsibility while exposing a nightmarish side of.