Michael Moore’s latest documentary, Where to Invade Next, is a sprawling, didactic polemic wittily disguised as a European travelogue. Watching it made me feel like a deprived child with my nose pressed against the glass of a magical toy store in a faraway land. On one side is a happy, harmonious land of productive people. On the other is a world of misery, anxiety, war and greed.
As Moore “invades” one country and then the next, beginning in Italy and ending in Iceland, you begin to suspect that heaven on earth is anywhere but in America — unless, of course, you belong to the top 1 percent.
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The film’s premise is only half serious and wildly exaggerated, but there is enough truth in it to make you squirm and consider what went wrong. Every country has problems, many of them very serious. (The film was completed before the migrant crisis in Europe.)
Where to Invade Next is really a fairy tale with a moral. As Moore visits European schools, workplaces, hospitals and prisons, the movie builds into a cri de coeur about America’s weakening social contract: the widening inequality gap, the disappearing middle class and a military-based economy. “A land of we,” one talking head remarks, has transformed into a “land of me.”
At the beginning of the film, Moore fantasizes being summoned for advice by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose members, he imagines, are perplexed by America’s having lost so many wars since World War II. Oh, what to do? Although he doesn’t try to answer that question, the movie strongly implies that funding America’s military is starving the country of money that would be better devoted to humanitarian endeavors. With a camera crew in tow, he tours Europe, with a side trip to Tunisia, looking for solutions to our social ills that he can bring back home.
Moore, who wrote, directed and produced the film, is his usual screen alter-ego, a glib, blue-collar Everyman lumbering along and playing naïve when it helps make his point. There are none of the ambushes of those he sees as high-level villains that he staged in previous documentaries. There may be too much music and newsreel bloat, but Where to Invade Next is nevertheless stirring.
Writer-director: Michael Moore.
Running time: 110 minutes. Vulgar language, brief nudity, violent images. In Miami-Dade: Aventura, Sunset Place; in Broward: Oakwood, Gateway, Pompano.