This movie exceeded my expectations, but then, my expectations were pretty low. I was expecting a biased presentation of an anti-Bush agenda. Well, I did see that. What I didn't expect was logical reasoning on behalf of Moore to back his statements. I thought he would just go around acting like a jerk the whole movie (like he did in Bowling for Columbine) and play the blame game with every single person who disagrees with him.
In fact, most of the movie does not even feature Moore onscreen (a pleasant surprise for people who don't traditionally like his movies); instead, he will play the part of narrator as a bunch of carefully selected newsreels flash past.
Though Moore has classified this movie as a "comedy," there are long stretches that go without any humor at all, especially as the film goes on. In fact, I'd say the movie was 1/3 comedy, 1/3 tearjerker, and 1/3 pure attack. Whereas BFC leaned much farther toward pure attack.
I said earlier (on the VG Cats forum) that I went to the movie specifically to find faults with it, and faults I did indeed find: first, he portrays Iraq as a happy country (yes, happy) before the American invasion. He ignores the estimates of how many innocent Iraqis have died at the hands of Saddam's regime. Second, when Moore interviews a mother who lost her son in the war, he cannot help but milk her pain and misery for All. It's. Worth to make an emotional appeal against the war. I'm against the use of pathos in arguments anyway, but this was ridiculous. And lastly, even though this event is (thankfully) a rarity in the film, there are still times when Moore is dumb enough to get on camera and "interview" people in such a way that, even though he tries to paint the other person as a jerk, he ends up appearing a jerk himself. The end of the movie, when he tries to get congresspeople to enlist their children in the military, is an example of this.
Even so, I must note: none of Moore's explicit... erm... "jerkiness," for lack of a better word, is anywhere near the level he reached in BFC, when he tried ambush journalism on Dick Clark's van. In many ways, and thankfully so, Moore seems to have learned from his past mistakes.
My last criticism of this movie is that it was highly, Highly subliminal. Out of nowhere you'll hear an injured soldier say, "When I get back home, I'm going to support the Democrats." Mike's narrative voice is a very effective subliminal tool in and of itself, from the moment he addresses the 2000 American election at the beginning of the movie with the ever-so-innocent phrase, "How could Bush get away with something like this?" Mike really did go out of his way to put a halo above the camera and horns over the Bush administration.
However... That all said, Moore's movie is surprisingly deep and effective in carrying the anti-Bush message and making a legitimate case against the President. This effectiveness does not come from the subliminal, or the "interviews," or anything else that I included above as a flaw in the film's architecture.
Rather, the strength of Fahrenheit 9/11 lies in its sheer multitude of statistical facts, documents, and Bush administration quotations (some taken out of context, most not).
Moore explores Bush's business relationship to Saudi royalty and the Bin Ladens, and he succeeds in proving a link. Moore explores the war in Afghanistan and the reasons to go to war in Iraq, and again, he succeeds in proving his point. He then explores the corporate involvement in Iraq (Halliburton, etc.), and he succeeds at proving that link.
Unlike Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 uses the ambush journalism, bias, etc. as enhancements of his opinion, and not proof of his facts. This separation of fact and opinion is what I personally like most about the movie; even though the selection of facts is limited strictly to those which support Moore's opinion, the facts are so numerous and so damning that they carry the whole movie--even Michael Moore himself--on their back and make this a success.
And looking at Moore's waistline... That's no easy task, people.
Four stars out of Five.