WHERE TO INVADE NEXT -- from long-time filmmaker Michael Moore -- to be his most pro-American, certain others seem to loathe it for the very opposite reason. In a sense it's both pro and con because it finds much fault with the way America is run today, even as it goes country-hopping from continent to continent to discover ways in which each new place we visit provides much more productive living than what we have here. And yet, time after time, the people in those countries who are interviewed by Mr. Moore tell him that the ideas they have put into practice to make their habitat better originally came from America.
Much of what he learns may be already known to those who follow other countries and cultures. Yet, as brought together here under this single "fact-finding" mission, the evidence of how and why America could be a much better -- kinder, healthier, more productive -- place for its citizens to live and work seems near indisputable.
In Germany we not only visit an exemplary pencil factory, but we see how a country has helped its citizens come to grips with their country's fraught past -- Nazis and The Holocaust -- and healthily move beyond this. The way that Moore compares this to our own country's history of Indian genocide and Black slavery, as well as our paltry and tardy attempts to come to terms with all this provide the film with some of its finest, and most moving scenes.
Most surprising, for me at least, is the visit to Tunisia, a Muslim nation boasting free, government-funded women's health clinics and abortions, where a male official explains that "Prayer comes before power. So does avoiding conflict and bloodshed." Imagine: Conservative Islamists allowing personal choice by women. Bill Maher desperately needs to see this film.
What makes the movie so enjoyable is Moore's consistent sense of humor and irony at what he sees abroad and what goes on here in America. His movie is a lot of fun but every bit as serious and important because of that humor and irony. Sure, the filmmaker leaves out the fact that Italy is in a lot of financial trouble and that business there is more often dependent on "connections" rather than on abilities. But that does not mean that the country's treatment of its workers is somehow wrong.
Meanwhile, Where to Invade Next opened up yesterday in theaters all across the country. See it, argue, and discuss. But miss it at your peril. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters. Here in South Florida, it has opened in Miami, Miami Beach, Davie, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach. Check that listing for specific theaters.