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'We the People: The Market Basket Effect' is too short, too slanted

'We the People: The Market Basket Effect' is too short, too slanted
Rally supporters hold a poster of embattled CEO Arthur T. Demoulas in the documentary "We The People: The Market Basket Effect." (Film Buff)

Business news devotees may recall the Massachusetts-based supermarket chain Market Basket being hit by a devastating employee strike and customer boycott in 2014, after beloved CEO Arthur T. Demoulas was effectively fired by his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas. Tommy Reid's documentary "We the People: The Market Basket Effect" now adds useful context to that story, even though the movie is ultimately too short — and too slanted — to cover it properly.

Massachusetts native Michael Chiklis narrates, describing the Demoulas family's origins in the grocery business and explaining how founder Athanasios Demoulas built loyalty by extending credit to customers struggling through the Great Depression. His sons then carried on that tradition, by instituting a generous employee benefits plan.

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Arthur T. has apparently followed in his father's, uncle's and grandfather's footsteps, making sure his clientele and his staff are treated right — even at the risk of diminished shareholder earnings.

As suggested by the title, "We the People" doesn't just dig into the particulars of one high-profile family feud; it directly advocates for the Arthur T. Demoulas way of doing business. But with no family members willing (or perhaps able) to go on the record, Reid relies on transcripts of meetings and testimonials from Arthur T. supporters.

After a while, the limitations of that approach starts to work against the complexity of boardroom politics. There are good lessons to be learned from the Market Basket saga. "We the People" doesn't trust the audience to figure them out for themselves.

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"We the People: The Market Basket Effect"

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills. Also available VOD on May 18

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