After surprisingly long break from filmmaking, Michael Moore has returned with what feels like a hodgepodge of ideas and thoughts he’s had while being absent from screens for a few years. However, the amiable, rambling, and funny little doc Where to Invade Next is an amusingly light movie that feels like an easy way to brush away the cobwebs before hopefully diving into a more ambitious project.
The title might suggest that this is Moore’s movie dedicated to the US war machine, but that’s not actually the case. Instead, it almost plays like a gently comedic vacation for the director. Moore travels around to various countries investigating national systems that they have in place that are infinitely superior to America’s flawed institutions. These topics vary from something as light as the eight weeks of paid vacation that Italians enjoy or the gourmet lunches of the French school system, to more serious fare like Iceland progressively embracing of female leadership, Slovenia’s free college tuition, or Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs.
Where To Invade Next as episodic as most of Moore’s documentary essays, yet doesn’t come together with as strong of a thesis as his best work. It’s almost as if the filmmaker had stockpiled a few too many topics he was anxious to discuss during his years away from documentaries and this was merely the best concept he could come up with to cram them all together. The doc feels a little rushed and lumpy as a feature length project and might have worked best as a TV series, where he could dig a little deeper into each issue. Still, it’s an amusing project and not his worst movie by a long shot. If nothing else, it’ll hopefully get the guy back in work mode again because he’s been missed.
This review initially appeared as part of our TIFF 2015 coverage.