EXPELLED: NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED (**1/2) - Starring Ben Stein.
Directed by Nathan Frankowski.
If you've ever wondered what a right-wing Michael Moore movie would look like, this is a fairly decent example. Moore loves to play fast and loose with facts, inserting snippets of movie scenes or propaganda pieces to invoke an emotional reaction, and so do Stein & Frankowski. Moore likes to be coy and pretend to be a rube, and so does Stein. So why should I take Stein's arguments any more seriously than I do Moore's?
The movie starts out as an examination of how the science community is shunning and firing professors who are open-minded about intelligent design. It slowly builds its case that Darwinists are closed-minded atheist fascists, often showing the Berlin Wall as its metaphor. Darwinists are Soviets guarding East Germany from the evil capitalists of West Germany.
I think an argument could be made for Darwinism and intelligent design overlapping somewhere, but this movie isn't interested in making that argument. It pokes holes in Darwinism without really explaining how intelligent design works. Like Moore's, this movie preaches to its choir, and my skepticism on what Stein was really trying to do came early, when he said mainstream scientists were adamantly opposed to even broaching the subject, and then he has a series of one-liner dismissives. But one of them was Christopher Hitchens, a noted columnist and best-selling author of "God Is Not Great" (an argument for atheism), but I would not call Hitchens an establishment scientist.
So Stein's point ultimately boils down to Darwinists are atheists with their own agenda of killing God, and he's not above comparing how Hitler used elements of Darwinism to support his own Master-Race propaganda. In fact, the Jewish Stein tours a concentration camp site, pondering the Holocaust, and then interviews the author of "From Darwin to Hitler" to talk about eugenics. Yeah, not subtle. It also leads to Darwinist theories justifying abortion, euthenasia, etc. By the time Stein visits Darwin's home, the soundtrack suggests it might as well be Auschwitz.
It was gigantically unfair for Moore to try to blame Charlton Heston for the Columbine shootings in his movie, and even Moore fans pointed that out. I'd say it's equally unfair of Stein to blame Darwin for the Holocaust. And then he loops it back to the scientists, those close-minded liberal fascists who trample anyone who whispers "I.D." Academic Freedom in America is Dead! Da da dummmmm.
But then the real killers comes in, the final interview with atheist Darwinian scientist Richard Dawkins. It's an amiable chat, and if more of the movie had been this, it would have been a better movie. It also reminded me of one of Moore's strengths: his interviews. They're gotcha interviews, but it's always interesting to see who will allow themselves to get caught how. Stein gets a gotcha on Dawkins, where Dawkins admits intelligent design would certainly explain some things (as long as it's not God!)
I tend to like Moore's movies in spite of themselves, and I liked a lot about this movie. But it is what it is, a seriously stacked deck, which seems to be what more and more documentaries are becoming in order to make money.