New York Times calls his Where To Invade Next "kinder, gentler" than previous films
It's been a long time since the last Michael Moore-directed film came out -- six years, in fact. But the wait is almost over.
The controversial filmmaker's new documentary Where To Invade Next opens Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles, although a national release won't happen until February.
The film's website describes Where To Invade Next as "an expansive, rib-tickling, and subversive comedy in which Moore, playing the role of 'invader,' visits a host of nations to learn how the U.S. could improve its own prospects."
As such, the film appears to repudiate the idea of "American exceptionalism," a sacred concept in the nation's politics.
In a piece published Monday The New York Times elaborated on the conceit of the film: "Mr. Moore travels to three continents to 'steal' good ideas from foreign lands and bring them back to the United States, including France’s gourmet school lunches and Finland’s successful, and homework-free, public education system."
Moore has long held the apparently heretical view that Americans could learn from other political systems -- for instance, Britain and Canada with their government-run health care systems, and France with its generous support for new parents.
Sicko and Bowling for Columbine are prime examples of Moore's "comparative" approach to polemical filmmaking, earning the director praise from the left and great enmity from the right. He is the definition of the polarizing director.
I'm not making a policy film. I'm making a human film.
But The New York Times calls Where To Invade Next "kinder" and "gentler" than Moore's earlier films, suggesting it may not prove as polarizing. Moore said he doesn't anticipate this film will rile conservatives as much.
"I don’t think they can be so mad at me," Moore told The New York Times. "I’m not making a policy film, I’m making a human film. I’m showing the humanism of how they decide to treat their children in Finland and how the French do not poison their children at lunch."
Nothing for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz et al to complain about, right?
With the film arriving so late in the year it may have missed out on some awards possibilities. But Where To Invade Next has gained steam lately, earning a Best Documentary nomination from the Critics Choice Awards and the Chicago Film Critics Association. And it has been shortlisted for the Oscars, where Moore has some history -- he won the Academy Award in 2003 for Bowling for Columbine.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.