For the casual film viewer, documentary films get a bad rap. Some people don’t see the point in watching a non-fiction film about an Indonesian genocide, or Ukraine’s battle against oppression, or even Mexico’s public war against the terrorist actions of the Cartels. Obviously, I’m not one of them, but people will avoid a documentary because the real events prevent most people from taking their typical escapist pleasure from a film and fill it with a strong emotion that changes their view of the world. Michael Moore has been trying to do just that for the American public in every film he releases, and Where to Invade Next may prove to be his basest, most mass digestible film yet.
The average person, no matter their level of patriotism, understands that America is a great country, but not without its many flaws. We’ve been lectured before on why we are such a good country to live in but don’t completely examine what we could do to evolve this good country into a great one. Michael Moore goes around the world and examines great socio-economic programs and other political and even elementary changes that are easily implemented to health the needs of the many rather than those of the few.
Moore’s message is delivered in his typical theatrical fashion. Tempering sometimes hyperbolic and symbolic actions with a socially disconcerting message at its center. That is Moore’s signature style, and he delivers it with a comedically lighter, if not more heavy-handed, approach than we are used to. His new view proves to be one that is as effective as it is entertaining. More conservative people will mistake Moore’s tactics and presentation method as self-aggrandizing and ineffectual, but they would miss the point of the ceremonious causticness.
Where to Invade Next is an important message on the social, political and economic state of our country, but his farcical tone may prove too much for viewers to take seriously. This film lacks the visceral immediacy that made Bowling For Columbine such a powerful call to action. The humor splattered all through the film never undermines the message, but does take away from the persuasive power the documentary could possess. Viewers are unlikely to be shocked enough to change their political parties, but like most of Moore’s post-Columbine films, it proves to be a great conversation starter. That’s if you’re not terrified of the scary ‘S’-word (socialism), or its immediately thought after crippling ‘C’-word (communism). If these words scare you, or if you can’t differentiate between them, or even if you have trouble seeing how socialist programs can (already do) exist in a non-communist government system, then this film is not for you. For those of you who aren’t afraid to explore the world and accept that American culture’s dominance could use some fresh innovations, then you’ll find countries with ideas that require adopting.
Globe-trotting with Moore, we get to see many countries with much healthier lives and social structures. Moore tends to slightly not represent all the facts, not completely displaying the cost (monetary or otherwise) of the programs in each country. Some can be implemented as easily as shifting the government’s focus from big business to the welfare of its citizens. Others, like the countries with completely free health care or complimentary college educations, the cost would be higher taxes. There is a compromise for some of these social programs, but even then, Moore’s message still holds up when it comes to his revelation that America’s focus should be placed on national well-being over corporate profit.
Social programs and school lunch implementations aside, Moore also takes a short segue to show us a correlation between the number of females in positions of authority and their country’s prosperity. This is more to show how equality of the sexes and the destruction of the repressive, self-serving patriarchy better a country rather than declaring that women are better than men. Then again, maybe they are and only our fairly recent pushes towards complete gender equality have given women a chance to make the big differences they should have been able to make since the beginning of time. Whose to say. All I know is that Where to Invade Next raises a number of questions about the state of our country, and the future we as Americans deserve.
Rating: ★★★★★★★ (7/10 stars)