The film, he says, started life when he was summoned to the White House to meet with representatives of the US government. The top brass needed his advice on how to manage the country. In response, Moore proposed that he ‘invaded’ certain countries around the world and ‘stole’ their best social policy ideas in order to help fix America.
This joke introduces the central conceit and running gag of Where to Invade Next, but it also raises the idea of a détente – even a collaboration – between Moore and the American government. And while it doesn’t go that far, there is indeed a sense that the filmmaker is more interested in being a helping hand than a thorn in anybody’s side.
Moore’s new attitude extends to other countries’ governments, too. Interviewing smiling natives, Moore learns that Italians have eight weeks of paid holiday, French schools give their children healthy lunches, and Norwegian prisons resemble long-stay spas. He never investigates how these ideas might exist in a complex relationship with less savoury ones, so Europe comes across as a sunny paradise where everybody is having a 24/7 siesta.
Moore is quite open about being selective: he claims to be ignoring the ‘weeds’ and picking the ‘flowers’. This is a nice idea, but the sense of over-simplification is persistent and bothersome. Moore has never been subtle, but he’s never before been so willing to overlook what is problematic.
Maybe he’s just softened with age? With his long shaggy hair and swelling wattle, he looks increasingly cuddly as he shuffles around in dad jeans, getting misty-eyed as he prescribes tree-climbing for children.
Things get more interesting when he goes to Lisbon to talk about the decriminalisation of drug-use in Portugal. This subject allows Moore to expound on how America’s ‘war on drugs’ has its origins in the intended suppression of the Civil Rights Movement, and for a moment he is precise, revealing, and scathing. Apparently there is still some of the righteous anger that brings out the best in Michael Moore.
Hopefully we won’t have to wait another six years to see him exercise it properly.
|What||Where to Invade Next film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
10 Jun 16 – 12 Aug 16, Event times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to visit the film's IMDB page|