Michael Moore’s detractors are likely to find his new McDocumentary Where to Invade Next of a piece with his other works: broad, simplistic, entertaining to a fault, with his schlubby gee-whizzing persona very much present throughout. But it also arguably marks Moore’s warmest, most endearing and hopeful outing as a Crusader of Compassion yet. “I’ve turned into this kind of crazy optimist,” Moore says at a late point during his journey, which sees the filmmaker employing a too-cute-by-half gimmick: “invading” various European countries (with a brief, almost token-not-white stopover in Tunisia) and stealing their progressive policies and reforms in the goal of alleviating America’s myriad social, political and economic troubles.
Of course, Moore is cherry-picking, ignoring whatever might weaken his thesis, but many of these were eye-opening revelations to me: Italy’s 30-day paid annual leave, Finland’s world-class education system of shorter school hours and non-existent homework, French schools serving children healthy gourmet meals, Slovenia’s debtless university students, Portugal’s decriminalisation of drug use, Norway’s rehabilitative prisons, and so forth.
As expected, Where to Invade Next is most persuasive when Moore is at his least overbearing, stepping away from the camera and giving his subjects the floor. There’s still plenty of reductive math going on, and Moore lapses into cheap laughs on occasion, but in its plea for greater human empathy and decency — the fundamental principles of which aren’t exactly beyond reality — the utopia Moore has painted is a valuable crystal-ball glimpse into a brighter future.
‘Where to Invade Next’ Movie Times
More Moore On Demand: Sicko, Capitalism: A Love Story, Bowling for Columbine