Where to Invade Next Review
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In more than a quarter of a century of filmmaking, controversial documentarian Michael Moore has used his films to take aim at the American auto industry, the health care system, and Charlton Heston. For his latest film, Where to Invade Next, he boards a ship and heads overseas to learn from (and also aggravate) other countries.

Where to Invade Next follows along on the filmmaker’s mission to help the bumbling Joint Chiefs of Staff by “invading” countries to claim their best ideas for America. This means traveling to Italy to examine their fair treatment of workers and traveling to Finland to explore the best educational system in the world. Along the way, he also visits school cafeterias in France and maximum security prisons in Norway as he continues on his quest to fix our country’s faults once and for all.

No country is perfect. Each one has its pros and cons, its good ideas and its bad ones. And with Where to Invade Next, Moore sets out to explore the things that other countries do right (while, he admits, ignoring everything else). Instead of focusing on just one topic—on business or the military or health insurance—he decides to pick and choose, offering up a smorgasbord of great ideas that could be implemented back home in the States. Some of these ideas are surprising—like the cozy housing complex that serves as a prison in Norway. But they’re often quite fascinating, too.

The film’s greatest problem, then, is that Moore acts as writer, director, and big, noisy star. Though he seems totally amused by the idea of invading other countries to steal their best ideas (in true American style, of course), the gimmick is clumsy and weak, and he seems to get easily distracted away from his topic.

Meanwhile, Moore puts himself at the center of everything. He shuffles through foreign countries dressed in sloppy, 20-year-old jeans, with an old baseball cap covering greasy, shaggy hair, and he proceeds to ask intentionally stupid questions, pretending to be outraged while playing up his role as the stereotypical Ugly American—the kind of character that, in outrageous comedies, is typically played by Melissa McCarthy. His subjects generally seem to be shocked and dismayed by his unprofessional appearance and his loud-mouthed demeanor—and most of them appear to be waiting for the punch line.

If you enjoy Moore’s shtick, you won’t mind it—but, even if you do, you might have a hard time believing that Michael Moore is really an advocate for healthier school lunches (the kind without burgers and fries and buttery cinnamon rolls). And while he makes some great points, they tend to get lost in the act.

Where to Invade Next is an eye-opening film—one that will most likely leave you wondering how we can adopt some of these ideas (especially since Moore doesn’t really offer any suggestions). But while it’s definitely informative, Moore’s bumbling, blustering act makes it rather irritating, too.

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