By Kevin Anderson
BBC News Online Washington correspondent
Michael Moore's award-winning documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 has opened to rave reviews - but not among supporters of President George Bush.
Reviewers praised Moore's use of interviews with ordinary people
The filmmaker has made it clear that he wants this film to send Mr Bush crashing to defeat in November's presidential election.
And Republicans have few kind words for Mr Moore.
But while praise has been lavished on him following top honours at Cannes, reviewers are beginning to take a more critical look at the film.
Praise for Moore
Claudia Puig of national newspaper USAToday said "Fahrenheit 9/11 is the year's must-see film."
"The documentary's scathing attack on the war in Iraq and George W Bush's presidency is informative, provocative, frightening, compelling, funny, manipulative and, most of all, entertaining," she said.
In the New York Times, A.O. Scott said, "[Mr. Moore] can be obnoxious, tendentious and maddeningly self-contradictory. He can drive even his most ardent admirers crazy. He is a credit to the republic."
"Mr Moore's populist instincts have never been sharper," he says, adding, "It is worth seeing, debating and thinking about, regardless of your political allegiances.
The movie is garnering comparisons to Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, with respect to the hype that preceded the film's release and the fervour that it has elicited in fans.
"As a marketing phenomenon it seems to echo The Passion [of the Christ]: intense enthusiasm, organised groups buying tickets with proselytising zeal, the sense that one is getting something that corporate America wanted to stifle," Frances Lee, a political science professor at Case Western Reserve University, told the Washington Post.
MTV's Gideon Yago says, "Overheated, Overstated ... And Great".
But despite a largely positive review, Mr Yago says that "while Moore makes a persuasive argument, it is an imperfect one."
He criticises the filmmaker for painting an overly rosy picture of pre-war Iraq and painting American soldiers "either as videogame-loving baby killers or working-class martyrs".
"At times Moore relies on Leni Riefenstahl-style sensationalism, rolling footage of a wounded Iraqi child undergoing a head operation as Donald Rumsfeld speaks about precision warfare," he says.
But many media reports also focused on the conservative backlash against Mr Moore and the film.
Books critical of Mr Moore are set for release, and conservative group Move America Forward has led a high-profile campaign to encourage theatres not to screen the film.
Another conservative group, Citizens United, has called on the Federal Elections Commission to investigate whether television ads for the film violate new campaign finance laws, media reports noted.
Mr Moore says the film does not endorse Democratic candidate John Kerry, in fact, it criticises him and other senior Democrats for not standing up to President Bush.
And the campaign finance law makes an exemption for media, which the film might fall under.
But Citizens United counters that the film is propaganda and should not qualify for the media exemption.
'Fact and fiction'
The White House has been mostly silent about the film, although communications director Dan Bartlett said the claims it made were "outrageously false".
And Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt said "the American people can tell the difference between fact and fiction".
But the Washington Post reports that the Bush political team debated how to respond to the film.
Some in the White House wanted to attack Mr Moore like they did former counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke when he released a book critical of the war on terror, the newspaper reported.
But Mr Bush plans to play down the film. "To take it on would give it too much credibility," a Bush strategist told the Washington Post.
"He's not going to get into a debate himself with this little filmmaker guy," the strategist added.