Movie Review - Where to Invade Next

Last year, the Oscar Academy's Documentary Branch determined 15 films as potential nominees from 124 eligible as part of a shortlist. That shortlist included this film by Michael Moore, the most successful filmmaker of his kind in terms of box office. This film didn't get the Oscar nomination, even though it should have. It's arguably the funniest documentary of the year that isn't about or by a comedian. It shows a true skill and a great sense of humor that Moore can take subjects like healthcare and police brutality and wrap them in humor excellently.

He has a comical premise, which is the government is sending him to various countries to steal ideas about how to fix socioeconomic problems and bring them back to apply to the United States. He visits about 10 countries, including Italy, France, Finland, Slovenia, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Tunisia and Iceland. He talks to mostly middle-class workers about issues like education, healthcare, the criminal justice system and women's rights.

Moore's hope is that the U.S. would adopt the policies of these European countries. He doesn't argue that the American system should be totally reformed. He doesn't acknowledge that in pockets of the U.S. a lot of these policies are already enacted. His preference is simply that the policies become nationwide. Some critics say that Moore's film also doesn't acknowledge that a lot of those policies can't become nationwide due to political logistics or cultural lack of will.

The policies could be considered left-wing. The policies as ideas do possess a lot of logic that would vastly improve people's lives and people's overall happiness, as well as productivity in school and work. He concludes a lot of these policies might vastly improve American society overall when it comes to bettering relations between different races and the sexes. The policies might not be easy to transfer to the U.S., but I don't begrudge Moore for dreaming or aspiring for them. It doesn't account for many who are right-wing who only want more money and power.

One theme Moore underlines over and over is that of human dignity, along with fairness and equality, which are themes that have run through most, if not all Moore's films. This film in many ways might feel like a lot of his other films, but his sense of humor, his direction and editing make it so entertaining that one can forgive it.

Yet, when Moore wants to be serious, he can be. One sequence that is perhaps the darkest and most haunting of anything he's done is the sequence in Bowling for Columbine. I'll refer to it as the "What a Wonderful World" scene because it was edited to Louis Armstrong's famous song. In this film, Moore mimics that sequence but instead uses the song "We Are the World." Moore led us previously through the events ending in 9/11. Here, he leads us through the events ending in what could be BlackLivesMatter.

Moore is very topical and relevant. He's also very comprehensive at a lot of the core, social issues that should and need to be addressed. It's powerful and important. It's also a shame that it didn't get an Oscar nom.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 59 mins.

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