Review: Where to Invade Next, B
Rated R, 119 minutes
The entertaining, thought-provoking documentary "Where to Invade Next" from controversial Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, of such films as "Bowling for Columbine" and "Fahrenheit 9/11" is not a cure-all for America's many social inequalities, but it's certainly a good start. Moore visits various countries to examine how Europeans view work, education, health care, sex, equality, and other issues. From cafeteria food to sex ed, Moore looks at the benefits of schooling in France, Finland and Slovenia. In Italy, he marvels at how workers enjoy reasonable hours and generous vacation time. In Portugal, Moore notes the effects of the decriminalization of drugs. The enjoyable "Where to Invade Next" is Moore's first film in six years and is shot as a friendly semi-travelogue across Europe and other continents to look at everything from school cafeteria food, education systems, drugs, prisoner care and many other things that may be lacking in the United States. Moore's charming, jokesy (albeit slovenly, he's not exactly the picture of perfect health) persona and narration highlight the film, and much of is a fascinating portrait of how other countries have progressed, while the U.S. is seemingly lacking. If some of it feels a little redundant, it is, given Moore and company have done similar things before - his most recent film - "Sicko" - took off to Cuba and Canada and other places to get free health care, though "Invade" is much more ambitious in scope, taking a look at an array of different social issues. The most telling and memorable of his visits is his examination of the education system in Finland, where students go to school less and have the top education in the world; in Iceland and Tunisia, where there have been progressive movements for women, and in Italy, where workers receive far more employee benefits and are more productive. As fascinating and often entertaining and even fun as "Invade" is at times, there are a couple of central problems, first is that it's one-sided, skimming the issues considerably and overlooking many details (and the fact that some things in America do work OK), and second, which is most important, it lacks in practical application, which is obviously beyond the scope of this film, and most films of this type. Moore is best at his most subversive, and on that note "Where to Invade Next" is simply a template to start the conversation, and he does that job well. Worth a look if you want to learn something, even if you don't agree with it.