“Where to Invade Next” Movie Review


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     Regardless of what you think of Michael Moore, there is plenty everyone ought to be listening to in his new film “Where to Invade Next”, an ingeniously titled exploration of the world outside of the United States in which the filmmaker seeks out ideas we can use here at home to make for a better America.  If you’re all for that, than read on.  If you can’t get over the fact these ideas are being presented by conservative America’s public enemy number one, than go on living with your head in a cloud of belief that America does everything right and others should just follow.  Fact is, our country is a mess and those in charge of our future wouldn’t be doing their due diligence if they failed to at least investigate the manner of which other countries similar to our own do business when it comes to the issues which ultimately determine our quality of life as a society.  Moore has a little fun at the beginning, teasing viewers into believing once again he’s on an anti Bush anti war kick similar to his 2004 political opus “Fahrenheit 9/11”.  For the most part, there is none of that to be found here, as Moore uncovers a number of startling facts while touring the globe that are bound to raise an eyebrow regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on.

     The opening credits subtly explain Moore’s ultimate goal just by his selection of music.  The “Inception” trailer song “Mind Heist” plays in the background as a montage of some of America’s most recent and ugly incidents play out visually on screen.  Perhaps this was a hint at Moore’s intention to perform an “Inception” of his own in which the film would serve as a series of ideas ultimately implanted into the minds of the politicians who have the power to actually see them through.  Moore stages a faux meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff who ask him for ideas after admitting their recent war efforts haven't gone as planned , but he flips the script by volunteering to be deployed, draped in the American flag, to various countries of which he proclaims he will go to those “populated by Caucasians whose names I can mostly pronounce, take the things we need from them, and bring them back home to the United States of America.”  And this is literally what he does, often with comedic and hilarious results.

     Moore’s exploration through various ideals successfully utilized in countries such as France, Norway, Iceland, and even Tunesia all share similar themes with some of his previous work, especially the argument for universal healthcare made in his 2007 film “Sicko”.  But he also uncovers so many other surprising nuggets which when presented to an American audience will likely at the very least give people something serious to think about.  An example of this is his first invasion, when he sets foot in Italy and immediately notices how it always seems as though Italian people have just finished having sex.  Essentially, he is referring to the observation that everyone there appears to have a glowing look of happiness, as if they are living fulfilling and richly enhanced lives as a result of some unknown force.  Certainly their overtly positive emotions couldn’t be the doing of policies set forth by the Italian government could they?  For Moore, this obviously warranted investigation.

     We first meet a married Italian couple who seem to love to talk about all of the vacations they take.  The man is a police officer and the woman works in the clothing industry, but here’s the real interesting part.  The law in Italy requires employers to give their employees 4 weeks of vacation per year.  In addition, there are also 12 paid holidays and 5 paid months off for new mothers.  As Moore looks in disbelief, knowing this is rare in America and certainly not the law,  the couple gleefully explains how important rest and relaxation is after their work week and how much their lives seem to revolve over the planning of their next adventure.  Moore’s shock only increases with a visit to a plant charged with making Ducati motorcycles, where he learns of a two hour lunch break in which every employee goes home and enjoys a fully cooked meal rather than looking for something in a vending machine or a drive thru as is so often the case in America.  And why do these companies and the Italian government ensure employees are given these benefits?  As the CEOs of these companies explain, they want their employees to be happy and most of all, healthy, since they believe employees who love their jobs will in turn put out a much more efficient and quality work product.  Makes sense to me, but my experience tends to show American employers do not share in this philosophy.

     To talk about each and every one of the fascinating discoveries in the film would be the equivalent of giving away the crucial plot details of a fictional story, so I’ll refrain from doing so, especially since these revelations need to be experienced first hand by the viewer.  Moore explores everything from legalizing recreational drugs and instead treating them as a health related disorder to mandatory meetings between a mayor and a school chef to plan out monthly meal plans for students which include three course meals fit for some of the best restaurants you’ve ever eaten at.  It’s all really amazing and the presentation seems to remove the notion that these ideas could never be enacted in America.  Whether you care for the man or not, Moore has, once again, created a thought provoking film which intelligently sheds light on how people outside of America go about achieving various levels of success within society.  And why not listen?  Are we so arrogant as to believe everything we as Americans have set as policy is the only way to get things done?  All indications in “Where to Invade Next” point to those in the countries Moore visits would be happy to allow us to steal their ideas.  At the very least, some of them warrant a second look.  GRADE: B+