Pets or Meat

Michael Moore – you either love him for fighting the good fight with his uniquely American combination of schlubby everyman and left-wing moralist… or you hate him for destroying the purity of the documentary form… or who knows what you think, but you definitely think something about this guy. While his films realm from the truly thought-provoking (Bowling for Columbine) to painful hatchet jobs (Fahrenheit 9-11), there’s no doubt that his first film, the one that put him on the map, remains his most charming and humane: Roger & Me, which managed to make a strong political statement while tapping into the quirky beauty of working-class America.

Like Errol Morris before he got too slick, early Moore had a better, warmer sense of the absurd in people, letting his camera showcase America’s working class in between the many potshots he took at The Man. As he grew in prominence, his films became more pointed diatribes against a particular subject; looking back, it’s the sweet humanity of Roger & Me that makes it such a timeless and re-watchable piece.

Pets or Meat is only great in relation to that timeless piece- a “follow up” to Roger & Me that revisits some of those characters post hit-movie-fame. Originally made for PBS, Pets of Meat is cute and silly, but it also gives us more of a window into young idealistic Michael and the Flint, Michigan that he loves so much. It’s part a treat for fans, part “where are they now?” and part “tying up loose ends” to Roger & Me‘s various story threads. It’s also really funny; only an hour long, it would easily serve as a “DVD Extra” back in the days of DVDs, though it’s been relegated to obscurity today.

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