Last night I watched, Where to Invade Next, a 2015 American documentary film written and directed by Michael Moore. (The film can be watched free with an Amazon Prime account, or rented for a few dollars here: Where to Invade Next; or purchased for a few more dollars here: Where To Invade Next.)
The film received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 78% of 169 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The site’s consensus states: “Where to Invade Next finds documentarian Michael Moore approaching progressive politics with renewed — albeit unabashedly one-sided — vigor”. On Metacritic, the film holds a 63/100 rating, based on 33 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.
I think it is Moore’s best film, managing to be solemn and humorous at the same time. My reaction was more somber. For me, the film reveals, without explicitly saying it, how the toxic masculinity of American society, especially our propensity for violence and domination, leaves us bereft of community, compassion, and respect for human dignity. Social harmony and caring, juxtaposed with social dysfunction and aggressive competition, make the USA look horrific by comparison. Our cruelty and brutality are on full display and, compared with more civilized countries, American social policies are revealed for what they are—sheer madness.
In the film Moore visits (invades) various countries and claims some of their most successful ideas for the US. The idea is that rather than invade to destroy, we invade to learn how we could have a better and more just society.
Here are the countries he visits, and topics he considers, in order of appearance:
- In Italy: labor rights and workers’ well-being – paid holiday, paid honeymoon, thirteenth salary, two-hour lunch breaks, paid parental leave, speaking with the executives of Lardini and Claudio Domenicali, the CEO of Ducati
- In France: school meals and sex education
- In Finland: education policy (almost no homework, no standardized testing), speaking with Krista Kiuru, the Finnish Minister of Education
- In Slovenia: debt-free/tuition-free higher education, speaking with Ivan Svetlik, University of Ljubljana‘s rector, and Borut Pahor, the President of Slovenia
- In Germany: labor rights and work–life balance, visiting pencil manufacturer Faber-Castell, and the value of honest, frank national history education particularly as it relates to Nazi Germany
- In Portugal: May Day, drug policy of Portugal, and the abolition of the death penalty
- In Norway: humane prison system, visiting the minimum-security Bastøy Prison and maximum-security Halden Prison, and Norway’s response to the 2011 Utøya attacks
- In Tunisia: women’s rights, including reproductive health, access to abortion and their role in the Tunisian Revolution and the drafting of the Tunisian Constitution of 2014
- In Iceland: women in power, speaking with Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the world’s first democratically elected female president; the Best Party with Jón Gnarr being elected Mayor of Reykjavík City; the 2008–11 Icelandic financial crisis and the criminal investigation and prosecution of bankers, with special prosecutor Ólafur Hauksson
- The fall of the Berlin Wall
No one could watch the film objectively, assuming they realized that everything Moore is saying is true, and restate that stale line “America is the greatest country.” In fact, one should draw nearly the opposite conclusion. I highly recommend the film.
3 thoughts on “Review of Michael Moore’s: Where To Invade Next”
Totally agree. As an ex-pat who has lived and traveled in many countries, and as someone professionally trained to share “best practices”, I found this movie profoundly important. It’s just a shame that he presents some of the foreign ways as perfect and widespread when they are not always so, and it’s also a shame that Moore is already so polarizing that his message will only reach the choir he’s already preached to. I’ve tried to get other Americans to watch this, and hopefully your post helps with that too.
Thanks for reading and commenting Ed.
And you are right, if people could disregard his personality and just focus on the material presented here, it would be mind-altering for many—especially the USA is #1 crowd.
Of course people prejudge everything, so if Al Gore says there’s global warming they dismiss it. Too bad all these ad hominem attacks prevent people from looking at the argument. if we could only get limbaugh or hannity or o’reilly to deliver this.
as for michael, he is a good guy i’m sure and his heart is in the right place. I actually wish he would just lose a little weight!
but all the ideas he finds around the world would make this place so much better. the usa is #1 in % and number of incarerated but not much else.
I agree that his presentations of German healthcare or Finnish prisons are somewhat idyllic. Capitalism has it’s moments as does Socialism or Communism. Situations change and medicine from one or another is needed, not just one or the other.
After looting Capitalism until it’s just the rich with the goods and the poor with the misery, we see socialist policies as saviors.
Our problem is that we can corrupt or make dysfunctional any system of government, and normally do. We have to get people out of government.