'Michael Moore In TrumpLand' Early Buzz: A One-Man Show That Isn't Really About Donald Trump

Last night brought the surprise premiere of Michael Moore in TrumpLand, a film that was put together in seven weeks after staging a one-man-show about the 2016 election at a theater in Wilmington, Ohio, a town known for being on the right side of the aisle. At only 73 minutes, it turns out that this project (which Moore had just finished cutting yesteray morning) isn't a documentary about Donald Trump, but rather a one-man show that feels more like a commencement speech or stand-up routine featuring Michael Moore explaining why you should vote for Hillary Clinton rather than why you shouldn't vote for Donald Trump.

So how did it turn out? Find out what the first Michael Moore in TrumpLand reviews have to say.

Owen Gleiberman at Variety points out the the film's content, compared to its title, may elicit disappointment

For a while, Moore, with his stringy long hair tucked under a San Francisco 49ers cap, stands at a podium and speaks in the style of a free-wheelingly funny and scathing professor. (That's the best part of the movie.) Then he gets more earnest. In "Michael Moore in TrumpLand," he's at once a stand-up comedian, a hectoring editorialist, a can't-we-all-get-along negotiator, and a warm-and-fuzzy Hillary Clinton advocate; he's also a filmmaker rehashing a number of the inspiring points he has already made in films like "Sicko" and "Where to Invade Next." And Donald Trump? He, of course, is the reason that anyone is going to be excited to see this movie. But Moore's title turns out to be a bit of false advertising. The filmmaker means it quite literally: He's giving a stage performance in the heart of Trump-land.

But then he dives into what the actually presents after just 30 minutes of analyzing Trump:

Moore wants to convert the Trumpian masses, but really, the religious conversion he's documenting is his own. Hillary the compromising centrist, he seems to be saying, "will turn out to be everything I believe in!" That's called magical thinking. He suspects, deep down, that Hillary will be like Pope Francis: a revolutionary snuck in through the Trojan Horse of mainstream politics. And right there on stage, in front of an audience of people who don't like Hillary Clinton (but start to tear up — or, at least, the women do — when he talks about her), he gives in to his dream. What if the young, idealistic Hillary — the liberal Hillary — had simply gone underground? "I think she's been biding her time," says Moore.

Neil Genzlinger over at The New York Times says:

"...if the film doesn't shock or enrage, it is accidentally revelatory. The performance in Wilmington was filmed just as the 2005 tape that captured Mr. Trump talking about groping women was hitting the news; Mr. Moore's stage material contains no mention of that controversy, which has since consumed the presidential campaign. So at this juncture his film is, if nothing else, a stark contrast to all that has transpired in the last couple of weeks. It's surprising to hear someone extolling a candidate's virtues rather than just harping on what's wrong with the opponent — it's surprising to hear, in other words, why we should elect someone rather than why we shouldn't."

Jordan Hoffman over at The Guardian adds:

It was in Ohio that Moore hastily put on the one-man show that the film records, a mix of a TED Talk and Spalding Gray-esque monologue in which he thinks through his misgivings about Hillary Clinton but ultimately works himself up into a froth of support. TrumpLand is a fascinating document, but undeniably awkward in presentation. A few of his jokes land, but Moore is hardly Chris Rock or Louis CK. He's more like a good public radio DJ who can slip in an above-average zinger now and then.

Michael Moore in TrumpLand is not, unfortunately, likely to sway many voters. For all his good intentions, Moore's unique blend of greasy palmed populism and hard-left truthbombs isn't what it takes to get a Trump voter to turn his or her dormant brain back on. The movie also takes a good long while to find its rhythm, which is very much a problem when its only got a 73-minute running time.

Frank Scheck at The Hollywood Reporter writes:

Featuring a mixture of stand-up comedy, political observation, and ultimately a full-throttle tribute to Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore in TrumpLand earns points for ultra-timeliness and its admirable attempt to raise the level of discourse in this deeply polarizing election. But despite Moore's obvious desire to reach out to Trump voters, disaffected Bernie followers, those leaning toward third-party candidates, and people who intend to sit out the election entirely, this cinematic lecture is unlikely to change many hearts or minds...which is more the pity.

Then he also notes:

Moore is an articulate and passionate speaker who leavens his political discourse with folksiness and humor. And much of what he says here is bound to resonate, at least with certain voters whose minds aren't yet entirely closed. But despite his efforts to empathize with Trump supporters — not that they'll be bothering to see this film anyway — he's unlikely to make any headway with them. His clear agenda is rather to raise the level of enthusiasm for Hillary, which is something her campaign needs in order to drive voter turnout.

Jennifer Merlin at The Wrap praises Moore's unique approach to certain issues:

Moore's narrative cleverly covers a lot of ground, creating unusual synapses that connect issues in insightful ways. When commenting about gun control, for example, Moore points out that three percent of our population owns 50 percent of the guns in America, and that women — even those who own guns — have never been the perpetrators of mass killings in schools. The juxtaposition of thoughts is interesting and provocative. And it's a not-so-subtle note of support for Hillary Clinton. As is the entire performance.

Add up the anecdotes, jokes, information and history, and you get all of the reasons why Moore urges voters to overcome anger, apathy, feelings of helplessness and their dislike for both candidates and vote for Hillary Clinton. His bottom line is that voting for Hillary is doing something good for your country, whether you like her or not.

Rodrigo Perez over at The Playlist notes:

Those expecting an excoriating takedown of the Republican nominee for President have come to the wrong place. Instead, the documentarian's latest has little to do with Trump and everything to do with Hillary Clinton. In fact the movie, which is more one man show/stand-up effort then documentary, is an active apologist love letter to the current Secretary of State, but like many recent Moore efforts, its a broad, inelegant presentation instead of the October surprise sneak attack it wants to be.

The best segments are the produced ones — a fake inaugural video and a mock ad about Hilary Clinton's health are rather hilarious, but these sequences are unfortunately far and few between. However, Moore is at his most biting when he's angry — see the Palme d'Or-winning furor of "Fahrenheit 9/11" or the the Academy Award winning "Bowling For Columbine"— but the filmmaker's docile ho-hum routine here is just too glib and superficial to make much impact. And where 'Trumpland' suffers most is when the satire recedes and pure sincerity takes over. Deeper into the film, Moore is practically on one knee desperately trying to convince the crowd into voting for Hillary Clinton, singing her praises, and nearly begging the audience to find one good attribute about her. It's here when 'Trumpland' starts bordering on overwrought hagiography.

Finally, Steven Zeithchik from The Los Angeles times writes:

Neither the play nor the film satirizes Trump ("no one writes that movie? better than him," Moore said), though the film does contain an eye-popping bit of video of Trump praising Hillary Clinton (and Moore!) during an interview for an episode of the director's "The Awful Truth" TV series in the 1990s.

Instead, it looks at ?the psychology of the Donald Trump voter and the underrated virtues of Hillary Clinton as Moore sees them.

Essentially, "TrumpLand" is Moore's Spalding Gray moment. Over its 73 minutes, the director eschews his usual field interviews to hold forth from a desk and podium on the Wilmington stage.

There is a standup-inflected riff about the larger ascendancy of women over men, which culminates in Moore's main psycho-social argument about Trump's popularity: that it is a function of a kind of last-gasping by the white-male "dying dinosaur." (Moore does sound effects too.)


For those looking to see the film themselves during this heated election season, Michael Moore is hoping to make it available to millions before Election Day arrives on November 8th. The film gets a limited release starting this weekend, but it will also be released online so anyone, anywhere with an internet connection can watch it too.

More than likely, this will be a film that is just preaching to the choir of left-wing supporters, but for anyone out there who is undecided or maybe even the dispirited Bernie Sanders supporters, this may be something that will change some minds. It may not be exactly what people were expecting from Michael Moore, but maybe that's a good thing.