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‘Where to Invade Next’ Movie Review – is Moore’s most accessible film in years

‘Where to Invade Next’ Movie Review – is Moore’s most accessible film in years

Michael Moore Poster Image

Where to Invade Next
Written & Directed by Michael Moore
USA, 2015

Where to Invade Next is the latest documentary from Academy Award winning director Michael Moore. The film serves as a platform for Moore to bring attention to the gaping holes that he sees in the theory of American exceptionalism. Those put off by Moore’s subjective style of filmmaking won’t find much to enjoy in his latest work. On the other hand, fans of Moore’s past films will be thrilled to know that Where to Invade Next is Moore’s most entertaining film yet.

The title and premise of Where to Invade Next is a jab at America’s proclivity for invading foreign nations. Over the course of the film, Moore “invades” several European countries and captures the socialist concepts that he wishes to bring back and integrate into America. Moore goes to France and compares the four-course lunches served to school children to the unhealthy processed slop served in American cafeterias —  in French schools, sharing a meal over lunch hour is considered a part of the children’s education. Moore takes in depth looks at free education in Slovenia, the lengthy amount of paid vacation given to Italian workers, and the dignity afforded to inmates in the Finnish prison system. Moore doesn’t just draw comparisons between American and European socialized systems, he also makes a point of explaining how the European systems evolved and what Americans can do to reach the same standard.

Even factoring in the film’s left-wing slant, Where to Invade Next  works as a purely entertaining film. Moore’s arguments are easy to follow and the audience doesn’t have to watch CNN or be up to speed on The New Yorker to keep up with the film’s political discussions. The film examines several compelling topics and never stays on a subject long enough for the film to lose its breezy momentum. Moore also has a knack for playing with cultural incongruences, and the film constantly produces hilarious segments as Moore’s interview subjects fail to wrap their minds around the American way of life.

Where to Invade Next is a much lighter film than the other works in Moore’s filmography. In past films like Capitalism: A Love Story and Sicko (covering the 2008 financial crisis and the American healthcare system respectively) Moore primarily focused on a single subject, but here he divides the film into several diverse topics. The subject matter in Where to Invade Next isn’t as difficult to grasp as Wall Street finance or as discouraging as watching sick people denied healthcare. While the film is still a scathing indictment of a “broken” system, Moore appears to have tempered the frustration and resentment that came across in his past documentaries. In Where to Invade Next, Moore comes off as much less of the agitator of his past films and more of a playful and mischievous figure looking to instigate change.

Where To Invade Next Image

Moore sits at the far left of the political spectrum, and his priority is making entertaining films first and objectives arguments second. While there is no doubt that Where to Invade Next is well researched and fact checked, Moore’s habit of cherry picking ideal scenarios and providing them as examples of socialized progress weakens the film. Moore often contrasts best case scenarios like low security Finnish prisons against a much broader American criminal justice system equivalent. The film doesn’t make a point of offering opposition to Moore’s arguments either. Where to Invade Next can be broken down into repeated sequences of Moore outlining how a foreign nation’s particular system operates and then describing why America’s system is inferior before moving on to another country. Accusations of one-sided filmmaking have been levied at Moore for ages, and there is no change of m.o. in Where to Invade Next that would alter anyone’s opinion on Moore’s documentary style.

Where to Invade Next is Moore’s most accessible documentary. Moore packs the film with eye-opening insights into socialized styles of living that will shock and inspire its audience into carrying on discussions about change. Even though Moore’s film is meant as wake up call for the socially unconscious, his intent to inspire reformation never holds Where to Invade Next back from being laugh out loud funny. Fans of Moore’s past work won’t need any convincing to see this film, and at the same time, Where to Invade Next’s lighter subject matter and broad appeal makes it the perfect entry point for newcomers to discover Moore’s socially conscious catalogue of documentaries.