WHERE TO INVADE NEXT (USA/15A/120mins)
Directed by and starring Michael Moore.
THE PLOT: Michael Moore, in the context of the US going to war in Iraq to gain control of the nation’s oil, goes on a journey across the world to find out where the US should invade next, to take home the best ideas on education, working hours, prisons, fighting drugs and women in power. The results are not all that surprising, but are definitely illuminating.
THE VERDICT: It has been some time since Michael Moore’s last film was released in cinemas, so it is easy to wonder just what the documentarian has been doing since ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ in 2009. Turns out, the director and filmmaker has once again been shining a light on the most problematic areas of the US, by heading away from his home country, and finding out which countries have better systems than the US, and which ideas he can bring home to improve life for every day Americans.
As usual, the tone of Michael Moore’s film is comedic and light, being as it is framed in the (fictional) idea that the Joint Chiefs of the US have sent Moore on a mission to “invade” other countries. As he travels through Germany, France, Italy, Tunisia, Norway and Iceland, Moore looks at the systems these countries have in place to benefit their people, and compares them to similar situations in the US. This is all well and good, as Moore has set out to find ways that the quality of life of the average American can be improved – and this is certainly interesting in the context of this being an election year – but the trouble is that the people who are going to see this film are the ones who already know that improvements can be made. So then the question becomes, who is this film for?
As Moore travels around the world, the pattern of women being in power and this being better for the country emerges. This could well be seen as a hint toward Moore supporting the election of Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, but this seems moot as none of Trumps supporters are going to be interested in seeing such a liberal film, especially one that explicitly says that America may be a great country in some ways, but there are improvements to be made. As well as this, Moore’s film over simplifies the issues – even as he says that there are no quick fixes to America’s woes, and the Portuguese Minister for Health agrees with him – but Moore certainly makes sure that he is asking the right questions; questions that could go a long way to starting a bigger conversation. With a running time of 120 minutes, however, ‘Where To Invade Next’ runs out of steam about halfway through, which the film then struggles to claw back in the end.
In all, Moore’s film over simplifies the solutions to the problems facing the average person in the US today, but it asks all the right questions to get the audience thinking and talking about change. Although this film may not have a huge impact on the US, it is definitely worth looking at from an Irish point of view, and wondering how these strong, people led, dignified policies from around the world could be applied here at home.
RATING: 3.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Where to Invade Next
Review by Brogen Hayes
3.5Simple but fun
  • filmbuff2011

    Where To Invade Next sees the return of jovial American documentarian Michael Moore, as he once again puts his inimitable brand of interviewing techniques and curiosity-led approach to teach Americans about the faults in their country. This time, he’s looking at other countries to improve his own.

    He playfully ‘invades’ a diverse range of European (and North African) countries, to discover unique national traits that could be used to improve life back home in the good ‘ol US of A. Starting in Italy, he discovers that the locals get 8 weeks of paid holidays, which makes for a happier workforce. That’s more time for drinking wine, eating food, going on holidays and, er, making love. Whereas in America, there are zero days of paid holidays. In France, he discovers that schoolchildren are given gourmet lunches in the school canteens, which emphasise healthy eating over junk food – even in the poorer schools. In Germany, he finds that rather than hiding from their dark 20th Century history, the country is embracing its past and learning from it to teach future generations about the evils of genocide. In Norway, he is surprised to find an open prison system where rehabilitation is more important than oppression and injustice. In Iceland, he also discovers that the country got back on its feet after the 2008 financial collapse by putting more sensible-minded women in charge and giving economic power back to the people rather than the bankers…

    How much you enjoy Where To Invade Next will depend on how you feel about Moore. If you find his simplistic, American ground-level approach to analysing the world we live in now grating, then you won’t find anything new here. Moore is still amiable and approachable, like the mildly eccentric American uncle you would like to have, rather than a firebrand like Alex Gibney. But there’s a lot to be said for the way he structures and edits his film and his journey across Europe. Starting off with a touch of whimsy, he discovers some intriguing facts – which even this reviewer wasn’t aware of about our European neighbours. One of the most startling is that you can’t be arrested for possession of drugs in Portugal, which has resulted in a drop in drug-related crimes. Though, the Portuguese cops that tell Moore this look a bit apprehensive when he suggests that he might have some cocaine on him. Hmm…

    Some of this could be put down to cultural differences, but Moore also makes the point that the American dream is alive and well in other countries who borrowed these ideas from America itself. As he puts it, There’s too much ‘me’ in America and not enough ‘we’. The film’s real strong point comes towards the end, when some forthright Icelandic women make a strong argument about this. This is the film’s best scene, which is something we could all learn from. That includes Ireland, where board member gender quotas are still a problem. There’s a lot to enjoy in Where To Invade Next. It’s funny, poignant, insightful and informs rather than preaches. There’s plenty here that we could all learn from, as no country is perfect. Maybe Donald Trump should see it. Recommended. ****

  • emerb

    Documentary filmmaker and progressive activist Michael Moore, 61, brings us a surprisingly thought-provoking and winning film “Where To Invade Next”. It is an amusing look at America and how he feels the country has lost its way and fallen behind the rest of the world when it comes to happiness, dignity and the way workers are treated. The first joke is the hilariously misleading title. I was expecting some strong, deep insight into American foreign policy but instead Moore shifts direction towards finding a set of suggestions for a better tomorrow. From his debut, “Roger and Me” (1989), to his greatest work, 2009’s “Capitalism:
    A Love Story”, Moore has subjected numerous institutions in America to stern and harsh criticism from Wall Street to the health-care industry to employers. This movie changes it up, in that it’s witty, light-hearted and offers possible remedies for the problems he believes plague the United States and the answers come from Europe and North Africa.

    Wearing his trademark baseball cap and as dishevelled as ever, the portly Moore sets off across the Atlantic ocean in search of solutions to a range of America’s problems and alternative ways of living in contentment. Tackling everything from workforce regulations to prison reform to drugs and women’s role in society, Moore’s journey is both an interesting and educational one. At each location, he talks to locals after hearing how they find happiness and plants an American flag announcing intentions of bringing these healthy notions back home.

    Moore’s starts with a visit to Italy where he chats with a couple about a law that compels employers to provide up to 22 weeks of paid maternity leave. As Moore reminds viewers, America is the only country in the world besides Papua New Guinea that doesn’t have such a law. In Slovenia, he learns that they have solved the problem of student debt by making its colleges free. The progressive education system in Finland sees students enjoying classwork in lieu of homework and standardized tests. In France, schoolchildren are treated to
    what gourmet chef-prepared meals using local ingredients, without a vending
    machine in sight and they learn about healthy eating (in style!). At a prison in Norway, inmates are not only allowed to move around freely but have their own showers. In Portugal, he hears that eliminating all penalties for drug use and treating it as a health-care issue instead has resulted in decreased use. In the final segment, the growth of women’s rights takes precedence. In Iceland, Moore learns that the only financial company that escaped the country’s massive financial meltdown was one founded and run by women. Iceland also differed from the U.S. in that many of the people responsible for bringing the country to its knees in the financial collapse were sent to prison. He also explores the Arab Spring in Tunisia (the only non-European and Muslim country he visits) and the current liberating attitudes that now prevail.

    “Where To Invade Next” is an upbeat, positive film and it works so well, not only because the ideas presented are realistic and somewhat achievable, but because Moore is such a masterful comic storyteller and a skilled documentarian. Moore openly admits that he looks only at each country’s successful achievements and ignores its problems. While the film has a definite story to tell, Moore does not preach to the audience, he just continues along his journey, finding one useful and interesting idea after another. What he keeps discovering is that many of the ideas actually originated in the U.S. but got lost over the years so by adopting the policies, it’s not “stealing” from foreigners but
    rather “reclaiming” ideas that once belonged to them. It is hard to fault this movie, it’s heartfelt and sincere and most entertaining. It’s rich in interesting and logical ideas, arguably not all realistically achievable in the short term but they are values which are embraced abroad and worth investigating. One thing is clear, beneath all the optimism and light-heartedness, this film has many truths to tell, truths which are hard to ignore – our world can do better.