Patriotic but not overly rah-rah, inspiring without an excess of feel-good calculation, the documentary "American Made Movie" takes an effective micro-macro approach to unpacking the rise and fall — and potential rebirth — of the American manufacturing sector. While producer-directors Nathaniel Thomas McGill and Vincent Vittorio don't wade too deep into the weeds of this vital issue's sociopolitical complexities, they offer an involving primer on the realities of homegrown versus global industrialization.
Framed by certain key facts (America has the world's worst trade balance; 56,000 factories in the U.S. have shut down since 2001), the filmmakers explore the post-1979 decline in domestic manufacturing, the ensuing spread and impact of outsourcing, and the ever-widening gap between America's rich and middle class. Interviews with lawyers, academics, advocates and even a "retail anthropologist" shed further light on the state of U.S. manufacturing and its bearing on the American economy.
But it's the profiles here of various entrepreneurs who are helping reverse the trend of overseas production that give "American Made" its spine. Reps from New England-based New Balance (the only major athletic footwear company still making shoes in the U.S.) and Viking Range Corp. in Greenwood, Miss., as well as Connecticut jewelry artist Merrie Buchsbaum and upstate New York businessman Mark Andol (whose risky Made in America store became a surprise shopping destination) all impart impressive stories about committing to domestic manufacturing — and succeeding in the process.
"American Made Movie"
MPAA rating: G
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly HillsCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times