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Docurama presents
The Awful Truth: The Complete Second Season (2000)

"There's something asthetically pleasing about seeing someone have a quick, sudden death."
- Randy Ball, representative for the State of Florida

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: December 31, 2001

Stars: Michael Moore
Other Stars: Karen Duffy, Ben Hamper, Jay Martel
Director: Michael Moore

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (political satire, language)
Run Time: 04h:41m26s
Release Date: January 29, 2002
UPC: 767685949337
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+A-B+ C+

DVD Review

You know you are about to have a really bad day when Michael Moore shows up at your office looking to do an interview. If you are a slimy politician or a fat cat corporate executive living off the backs of the poor, chances are you are somewhere on Mike's hit list. Is nothing sacred any more? Not when you know The Awful Truth. The director of the John Candy film Canadian Bacon, and several Rage Against The Machine and REM music videos, Moore first came to attention with his award winning documentary Roger and Me, as he attempted to interview the (then) CEO of GE about layoffs in his home town of Flint, Michigan.

Following up on his Emmy ® winning American network series TV Nation, which was pulled due to its controversial nature, he tried the same approach in Britain in 1999, coming up with The Awful Truth, which is basically the same show under a different name. The second season is hosted from New York's Time Square, where he interviews people on the street as the set up for the week's roasting of politicians, corporations, law enforcement, the justice system and government polices. His tactics, depending on your point of view, are often hilarious, as his confrontational style usually has his victims in search of a hasty exit. If you don't enjoy his satiric, in-your-face and honestly cutting attacks on prestigious figures, you can be sure to hate this series, but for those with a more cynical outlook on the power structures of America, prepare to exact a little revenge, and give those scumballs a taste of what they have coming.

"It's just awesome to know that a man is being put to death." Diane Clemmens, death penalty advocate.

Advertiser Appreciation Night

In the first episode, brought to you by corporate America, Moore lets the young people of the country in on selecting their leader, as he takes to the road on his Mosh For President tour, trying to get presidential hopefuls to take part in a mosh pit. The campaign made national headlines, as they found at least one candidate willing to body surf. Next, meet Pistol Pete, Moore's answer to the NRA's Eddie the Eagle for teaching kids about the wonders of firearms. Shoot, he was only trying to be helpful, after all guns don't kill people, bullets do!

Mmm, mmm, slice me off a big fatty slab of that roast. 5 out of five.

Compassionate Conservative Night

Episode two finds Moore helping out NYPD in a campaign to stop a series of police hallucinations across the country, when officers mistakenly identified household objects for lethal weapons when in the possession of black civilians. Moore's African American wallet trade in program helps eliminate unnecessary fatalities by trading in those intimidating black wallets for more police friendly dayglow versions. Don't get shot without one. Then, it's a brotherly death match as Florida takes on Texas for the challenge of who can execute the most prisoners. It's George vs Jed Bush, as correspondent Jay goes south to cheer on those who take charge. Stay tuned for the shocking results.

Dinner's ready!

Help the Dead Guy

The contest is on—which country has the most compassionate people? After a man died on the New York subway and rode around dead for five hours, the challenge today is whether British, American or Canadian citizens will come to the aid of a dead guy on the street. Moore abides by New York's new anti-porn legislation by opening up the Mayor Giuliani Sex Emporium. No wonder he made man of the year. In response to the scalding death of an elderly woman in a nursing home facility, Moore forms a geriatric judo squad to combat seniors abuse. How about some karate with those lamb chops?

Pretty rare.

German Vacation Night

As Germans relax on their six week holiday on the streets of Manhattan, episode four chronicles Moore's campaign against the Holiday Inn for turning in a group of illegal immigrants to the INS after they tried to unionize due to poor working conditions. Two can play that game. BMW makes the list next, for failing to compensate those used as slave labor during World War II. Don't mess with correspondent Sal.

Home for the holidays. 3-1/2 out of five.

Ficus for Congress

In an election year when vote counting became a major issue, Michael Moore twigs on a new alternative to the senate race and goes green, by running a Ficus against the unchallenged incumbent. See democracy in action as he gets down to earth , and goes to the root of American politics, visiting every branch of office, and leaves no stone unturned. Make sure you have some nappies handy when you plant yourself down for this one, as you may soil yourself.

I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

Taxi Driver

Speaking of Capitol Hill, Moore tells congressmen to take off their low heels and put on their ho heels, as his buddy K-Flex heads to Washington as the new pimp on the block, taking charge of all that campaign cheddar that greases the political wheels. Meanwhile Moore adopts a "no whitey" policy as he becomes a New York taxi driver. Get a tan, man! Also take a look at Male Apartheid.

Is that chip beef?

Confederate Flag Night

Moore concedes to the south as the Confederate flag flies in Times Square. First on the agenda is an installment of Corporate Cops, as Moore tracks down convicted criminals who have yet to serve time for their crimes. Then, there's trouble brewing in Canada as the bitter truth comes out over Molson's coming to lagerheads with workers in their Barrie facility.

Yee ha, that cow is dern better 'n grits.

Stop and Frisk Night

America, land of liberty and justice, unless you happen to be poor and in Nevada county, California, where of 900 arrests, only one person ever got to trial, the rest were plea bargained into jail. Michael brings in his sister, a former public defender, to look into the criminal injustice system. So just how smart do you need to be to join the police department? Well, not too smart is the answer as Michael investigates why a candidate for a police job was turned down for scoring too high on the entrance test. Theme for this night is "getting frisky." Pass the horseradish.

Replacement Mike

Planning for the inevitable, Mike holds auditions for his replacement, by sending them to get an interview with the CEO of an independent oil refinery. Another installment of Corporate Cops follows as a company convicted of testing products containing the pesticide DEET without warning the testees gets Mike's attention. We then get a look at a different side of New York as we climb aboard the magic bus for a Rotten Apple tour.

You sure that there is gravy?

Store the Homeless

Mike looks for ways to solve the homeless problem. Meanwhile, Capitol Hill gets religion, as the Ten Commandments are brought to Washington and your representatives are put on the spot. Let's see, number five is "Though shalt not kill." I guess none of them are PACing. Mike then sets up a registry for his friend's wedding, as Newt Gingrich is offered some useful gift ideas, and finally, how does one go from Bush league to Ivy League? Certainly not by getting a high grade point average.

That roast is well done!

Gulf War

Who better to get roasted this week than the retiring CEO of GE? At the same time, Mike does his part in celebrating the end of the Gulf War by opening a gas station, with prices Saddam low that people don't mind they are getting Iraqi oil, and that's no shi'ite! How about all those whiney veterans complaining of ailments form their service in the Gulf, surely the VA is doing something to help them out. Mike does his part in an international fundraising campaign.

Got any potaters?

Get Clinton a Job

Mike sends Ben to lend a helping hand in the job search for his favorite Republican, Bill Clinton, before reporting that terrorism is alive and well in America, and goes by the name Right-To-Life. In the last episode, Mike celebrates the victory of the pro-life movement, who effectively made it impossible for women to exercise their legal right to abortion. Comparisons to Oklahoma City, and the first WTC attacks outline how you too can use intimidation, explosives and handguns to forward your political and moral cause, regardless of what the law of the land says. Then, its all about the numbers as The Awful Truth investigates the highest population growth in the country—in a quiet little county in Virginia.

Do you have this in vegetarian?

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The transfer here is great, though limitations of the source are made evident. This was shot on video, and several segments are done on hidden camera or lower resolution video, so this stands out with a less defined image and less color fidelity. The majority looks very good, with solid colors, rich blacks and good contrast, although there is some inherent ringing on high contrast areas as a result of the video format used, along with some aliasing in places. This looks as it should.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Stereo audio is generally pretty good, though due to the way it was captured there is some distortion in places and background noise in a few segments. Overall the transfer seems true to its source.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Commentary on four episodes by Michael Moore
  2. Lenny "The Bookie" odds
Extras Review: "If you see us coming, run." - Michael Moore

Michael Moore gives running commentary on four of his favorite episodes, all of which appear on disc one. He points out that all of the partcipants are in fact real, and not actors, which makes many of the sequences much more scary. From his mosh pit campaign to finding a group of millionares enthusiastic to throw pies at poor people, to sending a real life pimp into the Capital Building, or joining the festivities of a pro death penalty rally, Moore looks back in amazement at some of the things they got away with.

How do you like them odds? Edited from the broadcast run, Lenny, a real life bookie, sets the odds for a number of subjects during each show.

There is also a biography section covering Moore's film, literary works, and awards.

A Docurama catalogue features outlines of their entire product line, and trailers for several titles.

The show's production credits get a section (though they are missing all the correspondents), as do relevant weblinks.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

If you can stomach Michael Moore's brand of political satire, this set is a must have. If you are a huge George W. Bush or Guiliani fan you may run screaming. His antics are obnoxious at worst and hilarious at best. The look on some of his victim's faces as they begin to realize what they have gotten themselves into is priceless, and the body surfing is worth the price of admission alone. Vote Ficus!


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