WHERE TO INVADE NEXT – A Review by John Strange

By: John ‘Doc’ Strange
Where to Invade Next opens with a rather self-aggrandizing montage as Michael Moore sets up the central idea of this, his latest documentary feature.  But that approach actually works.  He lets us know that he is taking a very serious subject and spinning the truths together with some humor to entertain us while we learn the lessons he has decided to aim his lens at. 
The threads of fact go well with the humor as the man begins a tour of several nations   First up is Italy where Michael discovers that the Italian workers get 30-35 days of vacation and paid holidays.  They get two hour lunches where many actually go home and COOK a meal each day.  He talks to the workers who present us with a very rosy image of their lives.  We meet the management of two of the companies visited who also give us a rosy view of how well their companies are doing and how happy the employees are.
The next country is France where we see school kids eating better than most American adults.  The schools and their chefs meet with city officials and the school dietician to work out and build menus that are include multiple course meals that include a cheese option and healthy desserts.  The children drink only water never soda.  Michael, of course, has to bring in a can of Coca Cola and offer samples to the kids.  They try it and then go back to drinking their water.  He asks the chef if he had ever tried a hamburger.  The man had not.  Considering the meals he is preparing, why would he?  He is feeding the students meals that can include a scallops appetizer and a main course that includes lamb skewers over a bed of couscous!  Sure beats anything served in the cafeterias in our country!
In Finland, we learn that their education system makes ours look, well, poor.  They assign no homework.  In fact, they feel that homework is obsolete.  They want the children to be children after school hours.  They should relax and spend time with family, not study!  The students spend 20 hours a week at school and that includes the time they spend at lunch!  Part of the school day is spent learning to cook and sew.  They also have the music classes those of us in my age group had.  They even teach sex education there (they think our sex ed curriculum is hilarious!).  All schools are the same because no school may charge tuition.  You don’t have rich kids going to special schools and the poor getting what is left over as a result.
Where to go next?  Why, Slovenia!  Not Slovakia, but Slovenia!  Again, we see a focus on education.  The country allows ANYONE to attend their universities for FREE!  Michael talks to a few Americans who left the US to attend school in this Central European country.  At one point the government tried to begin charging tuition and the students rebelled!  The country’s leaders backed down!
Germany was Michael’s next target.  There the people work 36 hours and get paid for 40.  Our intrepid documentarian goes to the Faber Castell pencil factory.  The building is filled with windows to bring light in to the workers.  The building’s architecture is more conducive to an office building than a factory.  The workers work only one job because they make enough to live comfortably.  When stress gets high, the workers can get a prescription for a three week stay at a spa!
Part of the reason that the rules and regulations work so well is that the law requires that half of the seats on every board be filled by workers.  These boards listen to worker’s ideas and implement many of them.  One of my favorite ideas is that bosses are not allowed to contact employees while they are on vacation.  In fact, employees are not required to answer work emails after business hours!
One additional interesting fact is that the schools in Germany teach all students the facts about World War II and the events that led up to that horrible time in the country’s history.  There are signs on streets that tell about events.  There are plaques that tell visitors what occurred at locations around the country.  They want to see to it that it doesn’t happen to them again.
In Portugal, the officials do not jail persons for using drugs.  They have found their drug usage has actually gone down over the last 15 years.  They have universal free healthcare.
In Norway, the prisons are not what you would expect.  One that Michael visits has more inmates than guards and there are no fences to stop anyone from leaving.  The cells are well designed and include flat screen TV’s and private showers.  The goal is rehabilitation not punishment.  It appears to be working.
Tunisia is a bastion of women’s rights.  The country revolted against its dictatorial Islamist Party who desired that women have NO rights.  The women fought back and won!
Michael’s world tour rolls into Finland where he finds out how the country handled its own banking meltdown.  AND learns about how a bank that had female CEO’s weathered the crisis without the need for any assistance.  Plus, how the government went after the bankers and jailed many of them!
The final stop is Berlin where we find out that Michael was there when the wall came down.  The camera follows Michael and his friend as they stroll down the wall and give us tales of what happened.
The countries that Michael visited have all taken ideas that all came from us and in some cases they improved them.  I agree with what Michael is trying to show us.  We have lost a step on the world on several levels.  This film shows us that we can do better.  What I wish it showed how the countries are handling the cost of the programs that Michael has highlighted.  I think the film would have been a lot darker if he had.
Directed by: Michael Moore
Cast: Michael Moore
MPAA Rating: R (for language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity)
Selig Rating: Matinee
Runtime: 119 Min.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
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