Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Filmmaker Moore turns lens on himself in funny, moving memoir

  • Print

Here Comes Trouble

Stories from My Life

By Michael Moore

Grand Central, 448 pages, $27


After taking on General Motors, U.S. gun culture and George W. Bush, American filmmaker and lefty journalist Michael Moore, the guy who made documentaries cool almost a decade ago, turns the lens on himself in his first major publication in eight years.

In a prologue -- for some reason he calls it an epilogue -- Moore, 57, reminds us of his infamous Academy Awards speech after winning best documentary for 2002's Bowling for Columbine, in which he uttered the words "fictitious war" and "fictitious president" -- a brave move, but not a popular one in the days following the start of the Iraq war.

What followed was a Hollywood backlash, a series of death threats and, ultimately, his most popular film, Fahrenheit 9/11, still the highest grossing documentary film of all time.

The film was such a success that, for a short time, it looked as though it would influence the outcome of the 2004 U.S. presidential election (of course it didn't, just as Bowling for Columbine didn't lead to changes in gun laws).

The bulk of this memoir takes place before Moore became a household name, with 23 vignettes that occur between his birth in Flint, Mich., and the release of his first film in 1989, the acclaimed Roger and Me.

Through these years he has celebrity brushes with Robert F. Kennedy, John Lennon and Roger Ebert, becomes an elected official days after his 18th birthday, and creates an independent newspaper, the Flint Voice.

Some stories are hilarious, others more serious, but put together they show how Moore developed his view of the world.

And for those who thought they already knew Moore, there are many surprises along the way: he planned on being a priest for several years; was almost a victim in a terrorist attack in Vienna; and, probably most surprisingly, campaigned for Richard Nixon in the Vietnam era, viewing Tricky Dick as the "peace candidate."

Moore is sometimes known for being preachy and manipulative, but he is less so here than in past works.

He's also known for being just downright funny, and his dry sense of humour definitely keeps things moving at an enjoyable pace.

Outspoken and self-depreciating, Moore even pokes fun at his own reputation, painting himself as a rabble-rouser the second he leaves the womb.

"And then, get this -- they severed my most important organ -- the feeding tube to my mother!" he writes. "I could see this was not a world that believed in prior consent or my necessity for a non-stop 24/7 supply of fundamental nourishment."

And remember in Bowling for Columbine when Moore made it look like Canada was a bizarre utopia where people never lock their doors? Or his praise for our health-care system in 2007 film Sicko?

Here we see when his love affair with our nation began -- when he contemplated moving here to avoid being drafted in the late '60s.

"I can speak some Canadian. All you have to do is talk slower and put an extra 'u' in some words," he tells his potential draft-dodging buddies.

But, of course, it's not all for laughs. His early encounters with homophobia, racism and neighbours returning from Vietnam in boxes all formed the opinionated Moore we love and loathe today.

There are also some tragic stories that are hard to shake, including his father's brush with death on a Christmas Day battlefield during the Second World War, and the confession from a priest who gave a blessing on behalf of the Catholic Church to the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Interestingly, Moore is quite upfront throughout, but clearly chooses moments to remain guarded, especially when it comes to his love life.

His disastrous high school dating career is presented in detail (OK, there aren't a lot of details -- he only went on two dates), but he barely mentions his relationship with his wife, Kathleen Glynn, except when it relates to a particular story, such as her help on the Roger and Me crew.

Overall, though, Here Comes Trouble is funny and moving. It is a great read for Moore fans, even those that may have lost interest after the Bush years.


Alan MacKenzie is a Winnipeg-based writer and a member of the comedy troupe ImproVision.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2011 J10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Top 5: Famous facts about the Stanley Cup

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hangs out on a birch tree in St. Vital. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is considered a keystone species. Other species take advantage of the holes that the birds make in trees. A group of sapsuckers are collectively known as a
  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google