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Movie review: 'U.N. Me' has plenty of damning material to work with

Posted 2:20pm on Thursday, May. 31, 2012

PG-13 (disturbing material involving genocide and sexual abuses, violent images); 90 min.

It's easy to believe that the United Nations, responsible for humanitarian, human rights and peace missions, is a velvet coffin stuffed with inefficient bureaucrats who are more interested in maintaining their cushy jobs. That's especially true for conservatives, who have been critics of the U.N. since its founding. And they're the audience for U.N. Me, a sometimes humorous, often damning but also disingenuous attempt to "Michael Moore" the United Nations.

Ami Horowitz and co-director Matthew Groff hurl waves of random, undated TV news allegations against the U.N. They're slow to identify their many expert witnesses, some of whom are more credible than others. They bury their best, most credible experts into the final third -- Jody Williams, who worked for the U.N., bore witness to the horrors of Darfur, and then was chastised and discredited by Syria, China, Algeria and other countries worried about the precedent that preventing a genocide there might mean to their own anti-human rights policies.

They review, early on, the sort of U.N. success story this movie otherwise ignores -- setting up and administrating the first-ever democratic elections in Cambodia. But they had lots of damning stuff to choose from when it comes to pointing out the U.N.'s failings. Peacekeeping troops who fill their days on the beaches of Ivory Coast, allegations of influence peddling and bribery in Iraq's 1990s "Oil for Food" program. Horowitz and Groff make a good case condemning the U.N., but are loath to suggest how the world might look if it never had existed.

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-- Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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