Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Moore's best movie, and one of the most blisteringly effective polemics and documentaries ever.
  2. Reviewed by: Jonathan Curiel
    100
    Documentary reaches an exalted level of filmmaking. It explains the very fabric of American society.
  3. 100
    This volcanically funny and seriously scary look at America's obsession with guns is meant to shake us up good. And it does.
  4. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    90
    Rambunctious, disturbing, often hilarious new documentary.
  5. Reviewed by: Lisa Nesselson
    90
    The sparks fly thanks to Moore's patented blend of curveball research, expedient juxtaposition, genuine satire and bottomless chutzpah.
  6. 88
    Both hilarious and sorrowful.
  7. 88
    That broad range of subject matter is indicative of the messy, meandering structure of the movie. But if Moore fails to tie this unwieldy movie into a lucid thesis, at least every tangent he chases down has its own payoff.
  8. 88
    Moore's roving essay feels even more urgent now than it did when the jury had to make up an award to honor it at the Cannes film festival in May.
  9. 88
    Imperfect as it may be, Bowling for Columbine is riveting stuff.
  10. 83
    Impressively reframes the gun-control debate in terms that advocates of both sides might find fruitful, but Moore doesn't do anything to shed his reputation as a snot.
  11. 80
    Often uproariously funny, even though much of its queasy power comes from its acknowledgment that some matters are too horrifying to be washed away with cheap laughter, or packaged into soundbites.
  12. 80
    When he follows his nose -- say, by tracing his own connections to Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters -- he implicates himself in what he hates and fears, and he emerges as a wounded patriot searching for a small measure of clarity. [28 October 2002, p. 119]
  13. Moore turns the camera on himself too often for comfort, but he provides an eye-opening array of facts and revelations.
  14. Moore brilliantly unmasks the inanity of the arguments used in the debate over gun control in America. He then undermines himself by leaping into the blame game without supporting his central thesis, that the media is what makes teens like the ones at Columbine turn around and shoot up their schools.
  15. Irreverent, provocative and provoking.
  16. Moore continues another one infinitely more valuable -- the proud line that extends right back to Mark Twain, embracing all those satirists so enamoured with America at its best that they won't stand silent for America at its worst.
  17. At its best, the movie powerfully indicts our violent history. A montage of bloody U.S. interventions in foreign affairs over the last half-century, most overthrowing elected governments we didn't like, left me shaken.
  18. Even Moore's target ticket-buyers are likely to squirm with concern, unsure of who the real weasels and idiots are in this large, unkempt, rambunctious country of ours.
  19. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    70
    It does get K-Mart to pull handgun and assault ammunition from their shelves after two Columbine survivors show up at corporate headquarters with Moore's camera crew in tow and bullets bought for 13 cents apiece at a K-Mart store still embedded in their bodies.
  20. Reviewed by: Mark A. Altman
    70
    It’s a welcome addition to the national debate, which while not always on the money, is consistently thoughtful, smart and thoroughly satisfying.
  21. Moore's concern about issues is genuine, and his showboating technique is often entertaining. But he is not the most organized person in the world, and there is a scattershot randomness about this film that is both its essence and a source of frustration.
  22. Disturbing, infuriating and often very funny film.
  23. Moore's best film to date is this comic and grimly entertaining reflection on America's gun craziness and why we kill one another.
  24. Fun and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking.
  25. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    60
    Something appalling about the way he turns to the camera with a look of sorrow: Michael Moore as a suffering Christ. It's an insult to his own movie, which at its considerable best transcends his thuggish personality.
  26. Moore provides a rather rambling discourse of causality, which includes racism, white flight and Africanized bees.
  27. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    60
    The only thing wrong with Bowling for Columbine is Moore himself.
  28. It's vintage Moore: on one level the courageous act of a gutsy journalist, and, on another, a callously unfair and self-serving spectacle that makes Moore seem like a big bully, and puts his audience into the position of a vigilante mob.
  29. Reviewed by: John Powers
    50
    It seems to have been made to delight European intellectuals and anyone else who believes that America is a land of bloodthirsty yet comical barbarians.
  30. 50
    It's poorly structured, a half-hour too long, and devotedly fixated on the filmmaker's persona.
  31. Where Bowling for Columbine is at its most valuable is in its examination of America's culture of fear as a root cause of gun violence.
User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 205 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 91 out of 130
  2. Negative: 35 out of 130
  1. TerryB.
    Dec 18, 2007
    10
    I don't know if other people watched the same movie that I watched. In the movie, Moore is just telling the truth. Now I know that the truth hurts some people, but lets be serious...our governments top priorities are on bombing the hell outta some country on the other side of this planet when there are starving families that barely get by from day to day. The government should concentrate on healthcare and childrens' education. Moore is just opening our eyes to how messed up our governments priorities are and how it's putting fear into every american in this country. How could you watch the president of the NRA show no sympathy whatsoever for the 6 year old girl that was shot by a gun at school and not get pissed at him for that?!? Maybe I actually have a heart with a concience, but some people need to open their eyes to what is going on in this country. And not all people of america are gun happy assholes...there are many great people in america and they just don't see those people. It's the government and gun-loving idiot who are screwing many people over. Full Review »
  2. Apr 21, 2014
    10
    As relevant today as it was 12 years ago, Bowling For Columbine features Michael Moore addressing the subjects of firearms, race, fear and prejudice in a totally engaging documentary that never falls short and continues to surprise and educate even up to its bittersweet end. Participatory documentary at its finest. Full Review »
  3. Sep 8, 2013
    9
    The dark and comic tone of "Bowling for Columbine" attempts to outline the seriousness of its content, through its condescending questions to various citizens and first hand look at some unimaginable situations, the film is a look at the simplicity of picking up a firearm in America, writer, investigator, director and the sarcastic Michael Moore narrates various facts about the National Rifle Association, the pro-gun movement, he interviews some of the most colourful individuals on screen, including a young man who sleeps with a gun under his pillow and a young man who makes his own bombs, including homemade napalm.
    The title refers to the tragic actions of two gun-wielding and bomb-making students who massacred students and teachers in Columbine High School, after a carefully orchestrated attack, an event that made people question gun control in the United States. We then see a video collage with words to various deals and decisions that the American government has made over the years, giving weapons to a country they later invade, removing democratically elected presidents and replacing them with dictators, which ironically has Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" playing over it, a startling reminder of what those in power of capable of. We then see video footage of the Columbine tragedy, as a teacher makes a frantic call to the emergency services as the gunmen turned to face the room the caller was in. What happened after was equally as disturbing, the blames, security measures and segregation of children was quite unbelievable.
    The film explores this blame and questions just what makes the Free World different from every other country, we share the same entertainment and pop culture variance, things which are blamed for these mass shootings, why does the rest of the world not have such a startling firearm death statistic as the USA. Moore has created a satirical view of serious issues that need addressed, he questions why larger issues are clouded by more menial ones, he also combines this with a perfect soundtrack, one which reflects the material on show, his interactions with a wide variety of people, from rural to urban areas of the States and even up to Canada, trying figure out the source if these problems, he puts the real problems right in "important" people faces and it's unfortunate to see such a cold reaction.
    This is touching, disturbing and influential documentary that hits the problems where they hurt, but accepts the fact that it can't do enough to change a nation, little instances happen, but they are blips on a massive scale that barely matter.
    Full Review »