Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Michael Moore may be an acquired taste, but at least you know where he stands at all times. The world's most recognizable documentary film-maker once again builds a strong, well-thought-out argument in Where To Invade Next? (opening today), a film that attempts to answer some of our country's greatest problems. Like all of his films, Moore provides us with a thoroughly engaging, funny piece of "docu-tainment" and urges its viewers to not sit idly by, but to take action to create real change. And like all of his films, it will be adored by the left and mocked by the right...which is unfortunate this time around, because Where To Invade Next? deserves to be seen by anyone claiming to possess common sense, a virtue that Americans on both sides of the political fence purport to be fluent in.
As always, Michael Moore is front-and-center in his film and is at the center of the journey that he takes us on. His premise this time around is to travel around the globe to try to figure out how other countries do things, and to "steal" their ideas to bring back to America. Playing with words and our country's reputation for involvement in foreign conflict, Moore looks to "invade" these countries to find answers, or as he says, "To take the things we need from them, and bring it all back home to the United States of America."
His travels take him to countries like Italy, France, Portugal and Finland. In Italy, he examines how Italian workers get two months of paid vacation per year. In France, we learn how school lunches are a major priority, where children are given edible cuisine that focuses on balance and nutrition. In Finland, its all about public education standards while in Slovenia, Moore shows us that university education is free...and prosperous.
Moore's journey results in a dizzying conglomeration of progressive ideals. It's not a new tactic of his either. In his film Bowling for Columbine, Moore went to Canada to explore their gun laws and culture, to contrast them with the failings of the U.S. on those fronts. His detractors have called this anti-American. His supporters see the points that he's often trying to make. Because the truth is, Michael Moore is as American as they come and anyone who watches his films should know that he loves this country, he may just love it different than you. Moore just aches to make it a better place, and his way is to show our country's potential for greatness by comparing our problems through a global lens.
Moore himself, in the film, tells us that his job is to "pick the flowers, not the weeds." He admits that there are no easy answers, no quick fixes, to the problems that our country faces. In true Michael Moore dramatic fashion, he compares our current issues to the Berlin Wall...an immovable, seemingly impenetrable structure that was slowly chipped away at, stone by stone, until it finally came crashing down. He sees the same potential for the U.S.
Where To Invade Next? is vintage Michael Moore, but it should be seen as more than just liberal propaganda. He may be focusing on the "flowers" but these flowers actually exist in the world...he is not making them up. So if these great ideas are possible in other parts of the world, what is preventing their growth in the U.S.? It may not happen over-night, but Moore is determined to have a hand in planting the seeds.
Run Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes, Rated R
Directed by Michael Moore (Capitalism: A Love Story, Sicko, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine, Roger & Me)
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