Review: Where to Invade Next (TIFF 2015)

Where to Invade Next (TIFF 2015)
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PLOT: Michael Moore's latest documentary takes a comical look at the progressive social policies of some of Europe's most productive countries, with Moore arguing the U.S should actively steal some of these ideas to increase ordinary Americans' quality of life.

REVIEW: Michael Moore is nothing if not divisive, but his latest doc, WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, is one of the most non-confrontational, optimistic pieces of work he's ever done. Granted, Moore is nothing if not critical of the U.S. government, but as usual it's hard to argue with the man as he has a point. But, rather than simply make his case for how broken things are, Moore makes an earnest effort to seek out other ideas that have worked especially well in countries where the quality of life dwarfs that of the U.S simply due to some common-sense, both by their respective governments and the people themselves.

Many of the ideas on display here seem relatively easy for the U.S. to implement, with the catch being – as Moore states earlier on – that income taxes would have to increase for the wealthy. However, he makes the point that with things like medicare, free tuition, more vacation-time and more, citizens would actually wind-up wasting far less of their income on things that are considered a human right in places like Italy, Norway, France and more.

Moore often uses humor to critique things like the U.S not making it illegal for employers to deny workers maternity leave or vacation time, with a particularly hip couple in Italy talking about how they dream of immigrating to the U.S., only to immediately change their tune once they realize they'd lose their six weeks of annual vacation time each year, or their “13th month” bonuses. Moore himself is taken aback when he gets a look at haute-cuisine kitchens in French schools (which serve even the poorest districts) or when he sees unsupervised prisoners in Norway swimming laps in the lake or working with knives.

It's the prison part of the film that proves to be especially insightful, with Moore learning that most developed countries outside of North America view prison as a means of rehabilitation rather than pure punishment. Dehumanization is something that's simply not acceptable in places like a Norweigian super-max prison where inmates start their sentence by watching a pop sing-along music video cover of “We Are the World” made by the guards (who are lovely people but horrible musicians).

The film does occasionally delve into serious waters, with the ultimate realization of how much better other developed countries have it being rather sobering. But, rather than turn this into a stern lecture, Moore makes the case that it really wouldn't take much for things to change in North America, with simple things being implemented, much as a need to decriminalize (but not legalize) drug use, with the case being made that drug users are sick more than anything, and that the prison systems in the States have turned into 21st century slavery.

Of course, WHERE TO INVADE NEXT won't convince Moore's critics – of which there are many. As always, the movie is as much about Moore himself than anything else, but his facts speak for themselves. If anything it gives us a glimpse at a way of life that truly looks achievable, if only the 1% in power would let it be so.

Source: JoBlo.com



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