Always controversial Michael Moore, whose “Fahrenheit 9/11” remains the highest-grossing documentary of all time, turns his attention to contemporary humanitarian issues by exploring how other countries handle similar problems. Beginning with an imaginary meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C., activist Moore launches a travelogue “invasion” around the globe, delving into vacation time, incarceration, education, drug decriminalization, the workforce and women’s rights. Read on….
He finds an Italian couple enjoying their daily two-hour lunches and several weeks of government-mandated holiday, a French chef preparing nourishing school lunches for elementary students, rehabilitation-oriented Norwegian prisoners carrying keys to their private rooms, and Slovenian students receiving a free college education.
Portuguese police officers don’t arrest people for drug possession; in Tunisia (a Muslim country), abortions are government subsidized; and, in Iceland, under its first woman president (Vigdis Finnbogadottir) corrupt CEOs of failed banks were prosecuted and sent to prison.
Of course, Moore never mentions that Italy has an unemployment rate that’s more than double ours. Among other facts that he selectively chooses to ignore are Germany’s current race relations dilemma, highlighted by its neo-Nazis and harsh treatment of Turkish immigrants, and the economic challenges confronting the entire European Union.
But it’s a revelation during film’s final third, focusing on progressive policies toward women, that most surprised Moore, who says, “It was clear that when women had power, and were equals, things were better.”
Indeed, the United States and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world without maternity leave for new mothers.
Aside from this issue, Moore’s new advocacy documentary, unfortunately, lacks the narrative urgency of his far-more-provocative “Roger & Me” (1989), “Bowling for Columbine” (2002), “Fahrenheit 9/11” (2004), “Sicko (2007),” and “Capitalism: A Love Story” (2009).
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Where to Invade Next” is a speculative, simplistic 6, one of Michael Moore’s more superficial forays.