Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

Film

Time Out says


INCONVENIENCE STORE Protestors make their displeasure with Wal-Mart known.

Wal-Mart is a giant corporate Goliath in desperate need of being knocked down to size. Over the past few years, the company's name has regularly popped up in the press as reports of the union-busting retailer have revealed a chronic pattern of employee abuse—from forcing people to work off the clock to hiring illegal immigrants for night-shift cleaning crews.

This documentary tirade against Wal-Mart's ruthless corporate policies by agitprop filmmaker Robert Greenwald is a long-overdue salvo, but the half-baked effort is also endlessly scattershot. Subpar camera work, shoddy editing, uneven pacing, sound-bite redundancies, weak graphics and a poor audio mix make the entire exercise feel amateurish. While the film bombards the viewer with an avalanche of negative statistics and talks with exploited workers, Wal-Mart boosters never get the chance to defend the company. With politics this one-sided, Greenwald simply feeds a knee-jerk anticorporate mind-set instead of fighting for the hearts and minds of the millions of consumers who make America a Wal-Mart nation.

In an era when Michael Moore uses keen humor and confrontational interviews to damn the government and Alex Gibney eviscerates Enron with meticulously researched and self-damning material, audiences have gotten used to a high standard from activist cinema. Unfortunately, Greenwald hasn't improved much since last year's hollow rants, Outfoxed and Uncovered.—Stephen Garrett

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