Short Takes: Where to Invade Next

(Michael Moore, U.S., 2015)

When Michael Moore’s new documentary is titled Where To Invade Next, you can be sure to expect another exposé on America’s failed and destructive foreign policy. But his hilarious follow-up to Capitalism: A Love Story instead approvingly dishes out some social policies he’d like the U.S. to emulate. Moore crosses the pond to “invade” nine European countries and steal neither their oil nor their land, but rather good ideas such as Italy’s paid vacations and maternity leave, Portugal’s drug decriminalization policy, and Slovenia’s free college tuition. By building a comprehensive and compelling case against America’s most defective domestic policies, Moore’s title transforms from a cynical query into a simple statement. What makes the film ironic is that all these ideas originated in the United States, in the years before it fell under the influence of neoconservatism.

Moore’s celebration of Europe’s welfare state can’t help but make Americans regret what we’ve lost. But when it comes to Europe’s increasing anti-immigrant nationalism, its crippling austerity measures, and the rise of its far-right factions, the film might be accused of looking the other way. Not so: Moore himself states that his intention in the film “is to pick the flowers, not the weeds.

While Where To Invade Next might not be as intricate or as courageous as his cogent tour de force Fahrenheit 9/11, it is just as satisfying.