There are many words one might use to describe filmmaker/documentarian Michael Moore and ‘preachy’ might just be one of them. His films, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine, Sicko…were all highly entertaining and even educational for the peripherally blind. But Moore had lost his fun side. There were moments of levity in each of his films but the humor on display in his first feature Roger & Me had been replaced with a political or prejudice view Moore hoped to express.
Moore’s latest documentary, Where To Invade Next takes us back to the fun and wit that made his earlier work so refreshingly entertaining. In this his eighth feature documentary (but first in six years), Moore travels to Europe where he visits countries that seem to have captured the American dream of a work/life balance. We travel with Moore to Germany where we find small companies who pay big wages, to Italy where employees are given more weeks annual vacation than an American can hope for over a five year period and to Slovenia which offers free university tuition. Moore then presents a mock ‘invasion’ of the country which is presented in a hilarious tongue-in-cheek style of filmmaking.
The presentation does not feel preachy nor does it appear anti-American. Instead, Moore is able to casually walk the line of presenting lifestyles, politics and privileges in other countries that American’s dream of or have tied up in political limbo. That’s not to suggest that Moore doesn’t show the underbelly of the giant. The European way of life may not be sustainable in the long term due to the expense of the support. And Europe is still not without its issues to which Moore is quick to point out to rousing audiences.
A tad overlong at 2 hours, Where to Invade Next is arguably Michael Moore’s most enjoyable film. We are not looking at the ravages of the auto industry on Flint Michigan or how sick individuals are denied health care. Here, we take a jovial look at the things that look like a shopping bag of perfect put into a soggy paper bag about to collapse. Moore has an energy and an enthusiasm here that he hasn’t shown in years and the results had the audience at the Toronto International Film Festival up off their seats in lauding applause at the conclusion of the screening.