AFI FEST: ‘Where to Invade Next?’

Although Michael Moore’s new documentary is out of Dog Eat Dog Films, it isn’t a dog eat dog story. Moore’s mellowed and his approach here is more humorous than angry. In “Where to Invade Next?” Moore becomes the invader, storming into different countries and looking at a particular aspect and claiming it in the name of the United States.

The countries include: Norway, Finland, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Tunisia, Iceland, Slovenia and France. The aspects he looks at our mainly education and industrial work life.

Some of this won’t apply to your life now, but the next generations and how we approach schooling. Do you remember the kind of mushy, nondescript meals served at your school cafeteria? That’s not what happens. The French are justifiably proud of their cuisine and their approach to lunch in schools is educational: The children learn about manners, balanced diets and to have high expectations in what they choose to eat.

There’s also Finland where the government turned around the school system. For the poor and working class,  Slovenia will seem like a dream come true. College is free and some American students are taking advantage of that system.

In German and Italy, Moore looks into improving working life of adults. In Italy, vacations are guaranteed by law and people take time to eat. The same seems true in Germany. The topic of maternity leave, stress relief through spa vacations will make you understand that the rest of the world doesn’t work in our rat race.

Even when you’ve done wrong, the need to punishment doesn’t have to take away your humanity as it illustrated by the Norway penal system. Instead of cells that look like modern dungeons, the inmates live in houses or house-like environments.

Tunisia may surprise many. The rise of women and the policy toward women will break some notions about North Africa and predominately Muslim countries.

Moore’s documentary shows that learning can be fun. You’ll laugh out loud at some of Moore’s preposterous posturing as the conquering invader, claiming ideas for America, some of which may have even originated in the United States. Others have learned from us; why can’t we learn from others?

“Where to Invade Next” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will open in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 23, 2015.

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