In his latest documentary, Michael Moore crosses the pond with the intention of invading European countries to steal their good ideas. As always, he approaches the subject with his tongue in his cheek and with an aim to bring some humour to the injustice and misery he uncovers. This is a film entirely about America without one moment of it taking place on American soil. Moore steps outside of his home country to look at it through the eyes of another continent. He travels to various countries to look at productive structures and laws that have, supposedly, positively impacted on the societies and citizens it affects. Where to Invade Next is an entertaining way to spend two hours and there are several intriguing moments of realisation but on the whole the experience is tainted by Moore’s patronising American pride. Moore is simultaneously critical of the American system and what it represents but continues to push his coca-cola fuelled opinion that America is the best country in the world. This attitude alienates and confuses audiences outside of the US who are already of the opinion that life inside the US is far from perfect. Moore is on a mission to confront serious issues within the American education, prison and political systems but goes about it with the wrong manner. It seems to come as a surprise to Moore more than anyone when he is told by a Finnish CEO that she wouldn’t live in America if he paid her.
In its finest moments, Where to Invade Next takes us to Germany where Moore focusses on the way that the German people consciously and admirably take on the responsibility of their country’s past atrocities. In schools across Germany children are educated on the genocide and injustice of their past and encouraged to acknowledge and remember. Moore makes an emotionally impacting point that the horrors committed against the Native Americans aren’t taught in the school rooms of his homeland. Likewise, in the UK we aren’t educated on colonialism and I can’t help but expect, with a heavy heart, that, if we were, then our recent referendum result would have been quite different. Moore calls out the arrogance of such countries who could learn so much from German attitudes towards national responsibility – a hard-hitting concept which I found oddly moving. In another moment, Moore looks at the horrifying way that America has used the criminalisation of certain drugs to control and contain the civil rights of the African-American community. Despite all the disheartening truths Moore walks us through, Where to Invade Next moves towards an optimistic ending as Moore chooses to put faith in the good of man, in the hope that change will come. Where to Invade Next is a flawed and confusing study of an ideal world but it is witty and entertaining all the same; little to no new ground is covered but it’s fun whilst it lasts.
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