Director: Michael Moore
Cast: Michael Moore
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Divisive, opinionated and not adverse to loudly broadcasting his worldview, everyone’s favourite political figure is back. No, not Donald Trump, but Michael Moore. After a period of increasingly heavy-handed polemics that have sometimes seemed as blinkered as the targets of his wrath, Where to Invade Next is something of a return to form – more light-hearted, more playful and certainly more entertaining.
The message, of course, is the same as ever, as Moore savages America for its decline in education, health, healthcare, economy – well, everything really. But rather than focus on his hometown or even home country, he jets around the world to “invade” and steal ideas from other countries that can, to use the Trump parlance, make American great again.
Moore’s always been a good presence on-camera when the focus is off him, whether it’s cordoning off Wall St in Capitalism: A Love Story or confronting Charlton Heston in Bowling for Columbine, so it’s a treat to see him in firm prankster mode here, playing things for laughs as much as serious lampooning; the sight of him shuffling around a school canteen next to bemused French children is as amusing as it is odd. You wonder what on earth they must make of him.
It’s that decision to step outside of his own perspective that really works. The framing device allows the director to pick his destinations carefully to match his agenda – France’s school dinners are food for thought, while Finland’s teachers are astonishingly unconcerned about national tests or league tables – but it also lets other people register their shock at the way the US of A takes care of business; the surprised faces of his interviewees say more than Michael ever could in a voiceover.
Does it say anything new? Not particularly – Americans will be well aware that other countries have better employment laws, which actually instigate maternity leave and paid holidays. But these are points worth making, as long as the film is worth watching. And from its winning humour to its example of women being equal with men in Iceland, Where to Invade Next is Moore at his most watchable. In a year where loud, opinionated, divisive rants have come to define global politics, this is a smart, sharp piece of work from a filmmaker who still knows how to have fun, while still making you furious.