WHERE TO INVADE NEXT (2016)
Featuring Michael Moore, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Krista Kiuru, Tim Walker. Amel Smaoui, Jenny Tumas, Pasi Sahlberg, Halla Tomasdottir and Borut Pahor.
Written by Michael Moore.
Directed by Michael Moore.
Distributed by Dog Eat Dog Films. 110 minutes. Rated R.
With politics in a weird state of flux, with some people feeling the Bern and others feeling the Trump and the people on all sides screaming for blood from the political establishment, it’s not surprising that Michael Moore is back in theaters.
Where to Invade Next is a definite return to form for Moore, six years after his last film, the underwhelming and unfocused Capitalism: A Love Story. It is also, surprisingly, perhaps his most optimistic film ever. And you know what? A little bit of the starry-eyed dreamer works on Moore.
Despite its aggressive title, Where to Invade Next is not some anti-military (or pro-military) ‘Murica-rules type of screed. Instead, Moore takes on a more puckish look at the global community. He decides to visit countries all over the world, find good aspects of every culture and bring them back to the US to implement.
That makes Where to Invade Next a oddball kind of political travelogue, with the director visiting gorgeous sites all over the world talking with the locals about some vaguely political, but mostly humanitarian, positions.
For example, a trip to Italy uncovers that workers get eight weeks paid vacation per year, and they are every bit as productive as their American counterpoints. Or in French schools, the children are fed nutritious gourmet lunches rather than junk food, causing them to be both healthier and better educated about nutrition. Or how Finland has become the world’s best educated country simply by letting kids be kids, play, and have no homework. Or the tiny country of Slovenia decreeing that all college educations should be completely free, simply for the good of the citizenry. Or the truly gob-smacking idea that Tunisia’s ruling party would be willing to step down from power just to satisfy the will of the people.
It’s all enough to make Sarah Palin’s head explode. And yet it’s a charming dream.
Some of the stuff is a little hard to believe translating to America – for example Norway’s shockingly low-security prison system, where even the most hardened criminals face a maximum of 21 years in jail, and even then they live in relatively nice apartments on a compound and have full, safe lives. However, this apparently shocking laxness leads to the film’s most emotionally-charged section – with the father of a boy who was killed by a mass-murderer passionately arguing that if the state were to kill a criminal, no matter how horrific, that they were no better than he was.
Moore also shows a feminist streak in the latter going, one that he has rarely explored and that looks good on him. Pointing out how the Iceland economic disaster was caused when four out of the five major national banks were destroyed by greed and graft – and the one bank that survived was the only one run by women. Then he showed how the women banded together to save the country’s economy and restore it to even higher levels than had been gained previously to the collapse.
As always, Moore is an affable host, keeping things funny, keeping things light, but not afraid to wallow in particularly emotional sections.
As Moore flies back and forth between the different cultures, a common thread builds. Most of these policies are variations on American ideas. We have had it all in our grasp, we just have to figure out how to implement the great ideas. To a certain extent, perhaps Where to Invade Next is a progressive dream – which is not completely unexpected from Moore – but wow, what a nice dream.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 12, 2016.