Benji Dunaief ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Michael Moore loves criticizing American policy, but Where to Invade Next is on a whole new level. In every one of his politically charged documentaries, Moore makes a point to smear some aspect of American society, whether it is our leadership, our government, or economy, but in his latest film, Moore takes on the very meaning of “American” and strives to challenge our fundamental ideals and values. However, while Where to Invade Next might be Moore’s most critical, damning film ever, it is also one of his most cheerful and humorous.
Where to Invade Next chronicles Moore as he ventures through Europe, trying to find out what countries in Europe (and Tunisia) are doing differently from America. Moore spices up the premise by sarcastically declaring that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have put him in charge of deciding America’s next country to invade; Moore elects to “invade” European countries to claim their policies as American ideas. To do this, Moore mockingly plants an American flag everywhere he goes, in order to officially lay claim to the policies. However all jokes aside, as Moore progresses through his European vacation, it becomes increasing clear that America is not going to win these “invasions”. Moore finds that countries all over Europe have managed to find viable and successful solutions for many of America’s most pressing unsolved problems, such as five months paid vacation during maternity leave in Italy, delicious and free school lunches for French children, and homework-less Finish schools with the highest test scores in the world.
Towards the end of the film, Moore visits a picturesque island prison in Norway, at which inmates convicted of crimes such as murder live and work in peace, tended to by a mere handful of guards. Moore interviews a guard at a “guard shack”, consisting of a picnic table underneath a shady tree, and inquires why the prisoners are allowed to roam free and even handle sharp knives in a kitchen. The guard responds, “I don’t understand why you think this is a strange idea. … The main idea is just to take away their freedom. That’s the only punishment we are giving them. We are trying to help them back to society”. At that point it became quite clear that Moore was not just finding solutions to America’s problems, but condemning the American outlook on humanity and life, or lack there of. After spending nearly an hour and a half playfully comparing European successes to American failures, Moore concludes that the American method of creating a successful and happy society creates just the opposite.
While Where to Invade Next could have been the most depressing film ever made about America, its humorous, satirical framing helps keep its serious subject matter light and thought provoking- our problems have been solved elsewhere in the world, and therefore we can solve them too. Where to Invade Next follows Michael Moore’s tried-and-true game plan to deliver a film that is sure to leave you peeking through the holes, providing a tinge of hope for the future of our country.
Overall Grade: A
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