Moore goes to other countries to pick and choose great social/political/economic ideas that the USA oughtta steal. Some powerful ideas in there – Katy and I liked it.
I already can’t remember the full list of countries/ideas, so let’s see if I can put together a list from web sources…
Italy: plenty of paid vacation time and family leave
France: healthy school lunches
Finland: successful education system eliminating homework and standardized testing
Slovenia: free college even for non-residents
Germany: recognition of the country’s past sins
Norway: reasonable prison system
Portugal: treating drug use as a health-care issue, training cops to respect human dignity
Tunisia: constitutional equal rights for women
Iceland: sending the corrupt bankers to prison
Okay, I stole the whole list from G. Cheshire’s review at rogerebert.com:
In my view, it’s one of the most genuinely, and valuably, patriotic films any American has ever made … As he investigates one potentially useful idea after another, Moore keeps discovering that many originated in the U.S. Thus he’s not stealing from foreigners but reclaiming remedies that once belonged to us.
D. Ehrlich was not as impressed:
Moore has forgotten how to be funny. His docs used to be genuinely hilarious. Still, this gains power in its final movements, especially when it hits upon the idea that change is both the responsibility and the *power* of the people.
Finally caught up with this. Katy and I both liked. Moore has returned to the concerns of Roger & Me, watches the problems of Flint spread to the entire country, but as usual with him (and unusual for political documentaries in general), does it in a way that makes me interested and excited, not depressed. A couple token scenes of Moore trying to talk his way into corporate offices and an ending where he wraps Wall Street in crime scene tape aside, he seems to have listened to criticism and kept himself mostly off-camera. We noticed he was awfully polite and attentive to religion, trying to expand his support base out of the godless-liberal camp. Winning coverage of a factory sit-in and an evicted family that refused to leave balance out the bummers of underpaid airline pilots, life insurance policies on corporate employees and bullying bank bailouts… well, not really, but he makes it feel that way.
Predictably, critical response was off the charts… some raves, many attacks, and still more highly-qualified minor praises – mostly accusing him of simplifying the issues. But they’re issues that needed simplifying, and the accusation is an easy way for a film reviewer to imply their superior knowledge and understanding to Moore without having to defend themselves with examples. Anyway, Cine File put my thoughts succinctly: “Basically the achievement of Capitalism is to spell out the facts in such a way that they’re impossible to ignore. Nobody does it better than Moore.”
Best of all, I found out that in my lifetime, U.S. Presidents used to say things like this:
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.
– Jimmy Carter, 1979-07-15
It’s fun to see the pre-Awful Truth days when every corporate headquarters didn’t have an Official Michael Moore Policy and when Moore was thrown out of an event not because of who he is but because one of Ralph Nader’s relatives was with him. It’s also fun to see what a good movie Moore can make when he devotes all his time and energy to a single cause instead of bouncing from one populist hot topic to the next (Columbine, Fahrenheit) or tackling issues that are too large to fit in a movie (Sicko). He stays (mostly) in Michigan, covers a couple years’ worth of plant closings, visits and revisits local people (the eviction deputy, for one) and tries to get answers from (and stir up debate against) the corporate overlords and policies seen to be the cause of the problems. We’d been meaning to watch this for a long time, and thought the week of G.M.’s collapse (and Moore’s latest email about it) made for good timing.
More consistently on-topic than any previous Moore video/film project, and even more of an illustrated essay than Fahrenheit 9/11 was.
Kinda made me cry a little. Katy liked it, too.