Friday, April 18, 2008

Win Ben Stein's money

I saw an early screening of the new don't-call-it-creationist movie "Expelled" up at Focus on the Family last fall. It wasn't the final version, so I couldn't properly review it, but I'm guessing it was pretty close to what's in theaters today.

So I've been reading all the reviews of the movie and they all seem to be missing the point to me. All the reviewers are trying to weigh in on whether Ben Stein and company make a compelling argument for intelligent design - or at least make a compelling case against evolution.

But that, it strikes me, is not really the point of the film. "Expelled" is simply a right-wing version of "Fahrenheit 911" and "An Inconvenient Truth." There are even a bunch of scenes that are lifted whole from those films.

So the proper question, in my mind, is not how convincing it is to people who are unconvinced, it's how forcefully it speaks to the faithful.

Michael Moore's movies were never designed to win an argument - they were built to rouse the believers (in fairness, that may be less the case with Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth," although a lot of right-wing blogs would argue the point).

And viewed by those lights, I'd say "Expelled" works pretty well. It's over-the-top, it's relatively funny, it's righteously indignant. Michael Moore would be proud, assuming he has a sense of humor about these things.

I thougt the section equating evolutionists to Nazis was over over-the-top (I believe that's called Godwin's law). And the interview sections dragged at times. I think the producers have been desperately trying to gin up controversy about the film as a promotional tool, which is right out of the Moore playbook, too.

But will "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" entertain folks inclined to agree with its premise? I think it probably will. And, just as importantly, will it enrage folks who don't agree with it? Definitely.


At 5:51 PM, Blogger Warren Epstein said...

Here's a letter about Roger Moore’s review of the pro-Intelligent Design documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” from the executive director of the locally based Access Research Network:

I was very disappointed to see your GO! Editors choose such an obviously biased review for the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” All you had to do was count the inflammatory words such as “crackpottery,” “leisure suit,” “classic propaganda techniques,” “loaded references,” “disingenuous,” “dishonest,” “silly,” “gullible,” “disgruntled,” “under-credentialed,” “cranks,” etc., to realize this was not a movie review but a slander piece meant to keep uniformed people out of the theaters.
Instead, “Expelled” is a far more balanced look at an issue than other recent documentaries as the producers went to great lengths to include interviews with Darwinists as well as Intelligent Design proponents. Moore gives the impression that the producers grossly misrepresented the Darwinists.
He does not mention that the Darwinists were paid for their interviews and signed release documents. I challenge anyone to show how the Darwinist interviews included in “Expelled” misrepresent what these leading intellectuals from our academic institutions have stated publicly in other venues.
I would like to invite the Gazette readers to visit our web page at for a wide range of articles, interviews and reviews that take a more balanced look at the movie than Mr. Moore did. If the nearly sold out showing of “Expelled” at Tinseltown that I attended Friday night was any indication, I think the citizens of Colorado Springs saw through Moore’s agenda that was dressed up as a movie review.
Dennis Wagner

At 11:54 PM, Anonymous patrick said...

just saw Expelled... Ben Stein's goal in making this flick (i gather) is to promote free thought, especially more thinking about motivations that drive American academia and a lot of other behind-the-scenes worldview that we tend to take for granted.

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Brandon said...

In defense of the Gazette's editors, Moore's review is hardly an isolated example. In fact, the film has received universal condemnation (it has only a shocking 11% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes). While I have not yet had the chance to see it, it has been very badly received, even from some Christian critics to whom I have personally spoken. Moore's language, while combative and over-assertive, is hardly unique.


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