If the news that the documentarian Michael Moore was releasing a surprise film called “Michael Moore in TrumpLand” had you expecting a rollicking, full-force attack on Donald J. Trump, prepare to be disappointed. Mr. Moore, one of filmmaking’s best-known provocateurs, seems to be decidedly uninterested in provoking anyone with this new offering, which had its hastily arranged premiere Tuesday night at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village. The film is not an attack on Mr. Trump, but instead a paean to his opponent in the presidential contest, Hillary Clinton.
Filmed over two nights early this month in Wilmington, Ohio, the movie captures a live stage performance by Mr. Moore in a town that leans heavily Trump (though that was not necessarily true of the audience he performed for). Mr. Moore has a knack for going into the lion’s den and poking the lion, but not here. He begins with some self-deprecating jokes about liberals (he was a Bernie Sanders supporter in the Democratic primaries), then throws in some mild jabs at Mr. Trump, but nothing that would cause anyone to bolt from the room or shout him down.
The stand-up comedy routine — tame and sometimes lame stuff; Mr. Moore is no George Carlin — gives way to a stretch that sounds like a commencement address before Mr. Moore gets to his real purpose, which is to support Mrs. Clinton.
He compares her — this will irk her detractors — to Pope Francis, though not on religious grounds. The pope, Mr. Moore says, has been surprisingly activist since assuming the office; he postulates that Francis was biding his time for decades, patiently and unobtrusively waiting for his chance, which he seized once he ascended to the papacy. Mrs. Clinton, too, he says, has waited for years. He fantasizes that if elected she will release the pent-up idealism she’s been clinging to since college, resulting in a flurry of landmark legislation reminiscent of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous first 100 days.