“Where to Invade Next”

LOUISA:    4 STARS    MATT:   4 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Love him or hate him, Michael Moore is a skilled filmmaker. Unlike his other films, “Where to Invade Next” is aimed at being more educational and thoughtful instead of an inflammatory flame piece against conservatives. Of course there are a few digs at Dubya and others, but the film doesn’t present Obama in the most positive light either.

The mildly sarcastic premise is great: Michael Moore treks across the globe to “invade” countries and “steal” their best social ideas to bring back to America. He explores women’s rights, education, prison systems, drug policies, sex ed, welfare, commerce, workers’ rights and more. The segment on school lunches in France versus in America was at once enlightening and depressing. When Moore shows a table of French school children photos of actual American school lunches, they nearly recoil in horror — and I had the same reaction. Another high point was Moore’s visit to Tunisia, the unlikely site of a women’s rights revolution. He heads to Italy to interview workers and factory owners, Slovenia to talk to college students, Norway to explore their prison system, Finland to visit schools, Iceland for an education on their financial crisis, as well as stops in Portugal, Germany and France.

The thought provoking material is presented in an enjoyable, scholarly and playful manner that is wildly entertaining as well as highly educational. I kept making mental notes of points to research after the movie was over; I absolutely love when a film teaches me something.

This documentary is funny, sad, inspiring and infuriating. I think you should try to see this movie regardless of your political affiliation. Again, this is NOT a typical Michael Moore movie (it’s not as one-sided or as extremist as “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Sicko,” or “Bowling for Columbine“). If it’s critical of anyone, it’s critical of the American people for our indifference and unwillingness to defy injustice in our own communities.

America is still the greatest country on Earth, but some of our systems are completely broken and we, the people, are the ones who need to demand change. As effectively shown in the film, the fall of the Berlin wall started with a few dissidents with hammers and chisels. A small chip eventually became a larger hole that eventually led to the wall coming down. It’s a  classic Michael Moore advocacy piece: this battle cry to take action will have you motivated to get out there and change the world.

MATT SAYS:

It’s difficult to review a movie like “Where to Invade Next” because a person’s reaction to it may vary based on his or her personal politics. But I’ll do my best.

I went to see the movie not knowing what it would be about. Other than knowing it was a Michael Moore film, I didn’t know what to expect. I was a bit surprised to learn that the movie isn’t really about criticizing the U.S. military-industrial complex (although that criticism is certainly present); instead, the “invasions” refer to Moore visiting other countries to find out what they do right from a social and quality-of-life perspective, and bringing those ideas back to the U.S. And that’s what worked for me about the movie. Instead of simply pointing to things that aren’t working in the U.S., Moore shows us what other countries are doing better than we are. He shares ideas and is constructive in suggesting what we could be doing better for quality of life.

As a film, the movie isn’t quite as well-constructed as some of Moore’s earlier work. It rambles a bit and lacks the laser-like focus of “Roger & Me,” “Fahrenheit 911,” or “Bowling For Columbine.” But what I liked about “Where to Invade Next” is that it isn’t a polemic and isn’t incendiary. There’s no vitriol here. Yes, the picture he paints of life in the other countries he “invades” is a bit idealistic – there are lots of rainbows and unicorns here – but that doesn’t make the suggestions any less worth consideration.

“Where to Invade Next” provides plenty of food for thought and discussion. After seeing the movie, I’m not clear as to what it is I should be doing differently to help bring about this change (vote for Bernie Sanders? vote for Hillary? get out there and protest?), but that doesn’t make it any less worth seeing.

 

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