Where to Invade Next
Michael Moore is preaching to the choir but his genial latest contains plenty of food for thought
Documentarian Michael Moore can come across as smugly self-righteous and hectoring in his ongoing mission to tell America what it is doing wrong. This time he adopts a light, genial tone – from the tongue-in-cheek opening to the optimistic postscript. Moore impudently imagines that the Joint Chiefs of Staff call him in for ideas, since all the country’s recent wars seem to have yielded is new wars. He proposes giving the troops a rest and sending him as a one-man invasion force, stating, ‘I will invade countries populated by Caucasians with names I can mostly pronounce, and take the things we need from them.’
Thus he embarks on an enlightening odyssey through Italy, France, Germany, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Portugal, Slovenia and even a Muslim North African country, Tunisia, learning something from each. These range from Italy’s eight weeks of paid annual holiday, Norway’s rehabilitative prison system and Slovenia’s free university education for all, to Tunisia’s women’s rights legislation. En route we discover France’s nutritious, delicious school meals are cheaper than the slop served up to the film crew’s kids at home, Finland’s no homework policy and shortest, most fun-filled school hours in the West results in the top ranking students in the world, and Portugal’s de-criminalisation of drugs has drastically reduced crime rates.
Occasionally Moore produces charts illustrating the benefits of the things he’s taken in terms of productivity or tax expenditure, and he weaves in footage of the American reality (police brutality, homeless veterans, failing schools), a stark contract to what we witness on his travels. The continuing frustration is that Moore is preaching to the choir and haters won’t bother to see this in case they learn something to their advantage. But it’s an entertaining, stimulating discussion with many points the British can chew on too. And, as he says, ‘See how easy that was? No casualties, no PTSD, just me walking away with something better than oil.’ You have to like a guy who still believes anything can happen.
Selected release from Fri 10 Jun.