In Michael Moore’s most heartfelt, inquisitive and, yes, patriotic film to date, the unruly provocateur deconstructs the myth of American exceptionalism and gently prods the country to live up to its potential. He does this by taking a look at how other countries better implement originally American concepts.
France’s school lunches are tastier, healthier and cheaper than the slop served to US kids. The same country’s sex education results in a very low teen pregnancy rate. College tuition doesn’t exist in Slovenia. The month Italians get off every year results in increased productivity. Finland has done away with homework and standardized testing. Portugal has decriminalized all drugs and has a miniscule addiction problem. Sweden incarcerates its lawbreakers far more humanely and has a low recidivism rate.
Sure he gleefully stacks the deck; it’s a Michael Moore movie. But there are a lot of inconvenient truths here, and the laughs each come with a sting.
Refreshingly for a didactic polemic, it goes beyond criticism and offers solutions. In the place of his usual acerbic tirades, the director suggests that if the country were to let go of some deep-rooted but wrong-headed concepts, it could realize a happier and more productive future. (Off topic a bit but most interesting for the Japanese, with its criminally edited history textbooks, is how Germany assiduously teaches its kids about Nazism and the Holocaust.)
Some reject anything Moore says. These people will vote for Trump. All others will leave the theater thinking, and that’s never a bad thing. Japanese title: Michael Moore no sekai shinryaku no susume (119 min)