Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

St. Petersburg Times Online

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The R rating is for required

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Read Billy's movie reviews on his special archive page.

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 4, 2002

Movie: Bowling for Columbine

  • Rating: R

Summary: Filmmaker Michael Moore takes us in-depth into the sensitive and highly controversial issues of gun violence and gun control in the United States.

My View: This is an R-rated film, and as a general rule, I don't review R films because I am 14. But I thought this one deserved special attention, so I went with my parents. It involves a touchy issue that has a lot to do with today's youths, and I felt strongly about expressing my thoughts on it.

Michael Moore[United Artists]
In Bowling for Columbine, filmmaker Michael Moore turns his camera to the sensitive and controversial issues of gun violence and gun control in the United States.
Though it's suggested by the title, this film has little to do with Columbine High; it's focused more on the big picture of guns. It is presented in a way that combines hilarity with bone-chilling reality. Michael Moore's efforts are brilliant. His views are far from objective, but I definitely have to side with them. His big issues are centered on why gun violence is statistically so much higher in America than in other countries, especially Canada.

This compilation of interviews, anecdotes, cartoons and other interesting stories is incredible. I was shaking my head in disbelief as I listened to the brother of Terry Nichols, who was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing and is in prison for life, speaking of how he sleeps with a .44-caliber Magnum handgun under his pillow to protect himself. "There's wackos out there!" John Nichols says. Right; go figure.

The more sensible commentaries surprisingly came from South Park co-creator Matt Stone, who attended Columbine High, and shock-rocker Marilyn Manson. This film is intended to show us that violence, especially gun-related violence, is prevalent in society and poses the question "why?" So, don't expect it to have all the answers, because it's made more for making you look the issues in the eye.

This is an incredibly powerful and thought-provoking movie that high school students need to see and then talk about with their parents, teachers and friends. I hope it will give them a new perspective about violence. It's out there -- right in our back yards. My school actually had a lockdown drill last week to prepare us "just in case." This is an issue that really needs to be acknowledged and discussed.

But I'm worried the R rating will prevent a lot of teens younger than 17 from seeing it. Yes, there is a lot of harsh language and a few graphic scenes, but it's not much worse than what is on the news. I truly feel this is a film worth seeing.

Recommendations: If you are in high school but younger than 17, ask your parents to take you, then talk about it. That's what I did.

Grade: A+

-- Billy Norris, 14, is in the ninth grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

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