“I hope this movie gets you so pissed off that you get active,” said Susan Sarandon, introducing a recent screening of Where to Invade Next, the latest documentary by America’s favorite loud lefty lensman, Michael Moore. Despite the bellicose overtones of the title, the movie is more a jolly cherry-picking expedition than an act of aggression, as Moore shuffles through foreign democracies in hopes of annexing their social and economic policies.
Nobody can make a dose of civic B vitamins taste like a hit of Juicy Fruit as deftly as Moore, and many usually deadly discussions about worker-management relations, school nutrition and humane incarceration are spiced up with witty asides. Moore marvels at the length of Italian vacations: “You’re having more sex, and because of that you are more productive!” he tells one couple. He “invades” France to claim the idea of a delicious locavore school lunch, while chirping, “As usual the French offered little resistance.” And he illustrates the luxe benefits afforded German workers with a full-frontal shot of burly burghers leaping naked into a Jacuzzi–for which the MPAA gave the movie an R rating.
That kind of cheap provocation of authority is classic Moore, and whether viewers find it winningly cheeky or gratingly pompous might be dictated by their political leanings. But Invade is a departure from such previous Moore films as Roger & Me and Sicko in that there are no mean CEOs or heartless politicians for the director to hound. “I didn’t shoot a single frame of film in the U.S.,” Moore said after the screening. “The idea was to show us us by going to other countries.”
Perhaps anticipating the inevitable invitation to move to a nation he finds more amenable, Invade points out that most of the policies Moore wants to loot were originally American ideas. “This film shouldn’t make you want to leave,” he said. “It should make you want to stay and make this country work.”
This appears in the November 30, 2015 issue of TIME.
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