Where to Invade Next
by George Wolf
If dashed hopes and broken dreams have a face, you’ll see it early in Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next.
While Moore talks to an Italian couple, we see a montage of holiday pics as they happily discuss the many weeks of paid vacation they’re allotted. When the man explains that he and many of his friends dream of one day living in America, Moore drops the bomb.
“You know how many paid weeks you get, by law? Zero.”
So, two hours of America-bashing, then? Only if that’s what you’re looking for.
Italy is just the first stop on Moore’s crusade to crisscross the globe and plant the American flag wherever he finds ideas worth claiming for the betterment of life back home.
He travels to Finland to uncover a once broken education system that is now thriving, speaks with Portuguese officials about how they combat drug abuse, outlines the historical successes of the women’s rights movement in Tunisia, and more.
These aren’t zero-sum proposals, just ideas that are making people’s lives better, and that don’t seem hard to emulate. Would copying France’s school lunch program turn us all into surrender monkeys? No, but it would probably make for healthier kids who understood more about nutrition.
Moore’s self-important tactics can be grating enough to sometimes derail his ambitions, but here he’s at his most affable and sincere. Though a less than healthy appearance makes the news of his recent hospital stay unsurprising, Moore is funny, self-deprecating and downright charming as he chats up the locals across various foreign borders.
That’s not to say Moore only tries on the kid gloves. Some segments do hit hard, such as one on Germany’s approach to addressing its shameful past, and a Portuguese police officer’s advice on keeping “human dignity” above all.
Where to Invade Next is not only a nice rebound from the rambling cynicism of Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, it stands as one of his best films to date. Focused, engaging and undeniably hopeful, it delivers shots of common sense that sound a lot like a rallying cry.