Director Michael Moore's controversial "Fahrenheit 9/11" outdrew two "White Chicks" to take the top spot in the box office this weekend.
The documentary earned $21.8 million while showing in less than 900 theaters nationwide, as Sony's "White Chicks" debuted in second place with $19.6 million.
It should be noted that although billed as a documentary, it is far from a neutral analysis of the events leading up to and following September 11, 2001, as Michael Moore has made his detestation of President Bush widely known previously. Critics have said this and other works by Moore have exhibited bias including out-of-context film cuts and even alleged falsifications. Supporters say his "bias" balances out slanted reporting from the other side. Regardless, it's a powerful work that brings out raw emotions from viewers.
With Moore doing the narration, the film basically begins with the controversy over the 2000 election, and how it was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. Footage of the ratification of George W. Bush's election by the U.S. Congress is extensively shown, as one challenger after another is turned away by the chairman of the joint congressional session, Vice President Al Gore. Ironically, Moore also notes Bush's victory in the state of Florida, which has his brother, Jeb, as governor.
The beginning of Bush's presidency in January 2001 is also highlighted. During a damp and dreary day, Bush's motorcade is shown being pelted with eggs and debris, to the point where he didn't participate in the ceremonious walk into the White House, the first President never to do so.
Over the first eight months of Bush's presidency, Moore portrays George W. as spending a majority of that time on vacation, primarily playing golf and handling some administrative work with the assistance of his secretary.
Several compelling scenes include Bush's reaction/non-action upon hearing of the second attack on the World Trade Center. While reading "My Pet Goat" in a classroom of Florida children, Bush sits befuddled, somewhat stunned, for approximately seven minutes before leaving the room. It appeared as if he was waiting for someone to give him further orders or instruction.
Also, Moore takes a Marine, who recently returned from Iraq, to confront congressmen outside the White House, urging them to have their children enlist in the service. Most of the congressmen walk past the duo, ignoring their request.
Off-guard moments that Moore captures include Bush and members of his administration not realizing that satellite images are captured live prior to them being given a cue to speak. Grooming habits of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who wetted his pocket comb with his own mouth prior to slicking back his hair, made everyone in the theater groan and quease extensively.
Bush was shown on more than one occasion being prepped for an interview, smirking and glaring cluelessly at times.
Moore also focuses on his hometown of Flint, Mich., and how Bush's presidency has affected several residents. One particular woman, Lila Lipscomb, reads a letter she received from her son, several days before he was killed in Iraq. Moore talks to a group of unemployed young men, who feel that enlisting into the service is their own chance of employment in Michigan.
The direction of "Fahrenheit 9/11" allows for the audience to follow along from 2001 to present-day events. Moore manages to finely weave provocative footage along with statistics to make you wonder.
Despite the "9/11" reference in the title, the actual day isn't focused on too heavily in this film. However, you're given the sense that September 11 is something that shouldn't have had to take place, and an abundance of circumstances leading to and following that reiterate that.
Truly a temperature-raiser, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a film at a fever pitch at four out of four stars. Not wanting to give much more away, this is one film that's best seen instead of read about. Whether you're political or non-political, you'll either leave the theater more informed, or angry.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" is rated R for some violent and disturbing images, and for language. Running time is 1 hour, 56 minutes.
Showtimes for "Fahrenheit 9/11" are 11 a.m., 1:45, 4:30, 7:15, and 9:55 p.m.
Last week's No. 1 film, "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" finished in third place, knocking out $18.5 million from moviegoers - $67.1 million in ten days.
Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban" swoops down to sixth place from third place with $11.4 million, giving it a month's worth of $211.7 million.
DreamWorks' "Shrek 2" is inching closer to the $400 million mark, dropping from fourth to seventh place with $10.5 million.
For more information and show times, contact Regal Cinemas Marketplace 24, 180 Mill Road, Oaks, at (610) 666-6697.
Dennis J. Wright can be reached at email@example.com.