Michael Moore's inditement of America plays like a fairytale that is predicated upon the late David Bowie's song gone awry. Like it or not, we can no longer "all be hero's " in America because while that dream is seemingly alive in countries like Finland and Germany, our own country is struggling to overcome the social, political, and economic disarray.
Moore's camera zooms in on men and women relaxing on lounge chairs in a German spa and we think .."wow, we are really missing out! " Why doesn't America value life style like the rest of the world? New York Times critic Stephen Holden points out that "watching the movie made him feel like a deprived child..... On one side is a happy, harmonious land of productive people. On the other is a world of misery, anxiety, war, and greed." Moore is ignoring the complex dynamics of our country while only pointing out what is wrong with our life style.
In The National Review, the critic Armond White accuses Moore of "lackadaisical dishonest storytelling, and goes on to say that "Moore's romanticizing of Europe goes unchallenged by facts or even statistics." White makes a point that is hard to argue with. Moore's world is half a canvas that is painted with an idyllic brush from Slovenia's free education, France's gourmet lunches, and a land where prisons consist of character rebuilding. Is Moore actually manipulating us, or trying to do so? After all, he appeals to our sense of romance and nostalgia. The "if only we had that," feeling makes people feel empty and sad. "Rich and comfortable enough to devote his "comedy" to shaming the United States," continues Armond White, "Moore deliberately misrepresents and misunderstands - how the melting pot boils."
Although I find it hard to argue with a man who claims that the world would be a better place if women were in charge, I do take umbrage at his reductionism of the American dream. I believe that like all fairytales, darkness and light can co-exist. Moore himself turns nostalgic and patriotic at the end of the movie, making us believe that he is not as pessimistic as we may have thought. He convinces us that he believes in the inherent goodness of our founding fathers, and that we are like children who have lost our way. He tells us that most of the laudatory values we see in other countries have actually originated in America.
I believe that Moore's change of heart is responsible for Godfrey Cheshire who praises the film. "WHERE TO INVADE NEXT is one of the most genuinely, and valuably, patriotic films any American has ever made.....Moore is not stealing from foreigners but reclaiming remedies that once belonged to us." While I certainly do not share this entire view point, I believe that our country is founded upon good values, values based upon the freedom that many of us take for granted. Mr Cheshire and Michael Moore are right in that some of the best of these ideals spread across the globe have originated right here on our soil.
Moore's film ends with one of America's best loved and most popular movies of all time. Dorothy and her dog Toto appear at the end of his film with the the beautiful Good Witch of the North who tells Dorothy to just click her heels and return home. After spending a good hour and a half of our time condemning America, Moore give us this final image as a metaphor and proof of his patriotism.