Michael Moore returns to point out the flaws of the United States by pointing out the various differences many other (mainly European) countries have. He also seems to do it in a very amusing way, when he points out the short-comings of the American Dream to people in Italy, France, Norway, and others, seeing their reactions is quite funny.
He looks at how even the worst public school in France has a far superior lunch program than most American public schools, the huge amount of paid vacations an Italian worker has, the free education and complete lack of student debt in Slovenia, Norwegian prisons focusing on rehabilitating its inmates, the focus German schools and society has on learning about the Third Reich, and many others.
Now, I’m from Europe, and have plenty of family scattered all across the continent, so most of the facts presented were not surprising or shocking to me (although still presented in an amusing light). The various problems of American school lunches, high tuition debt, and poor workers rights were also not very surprising. However, what did surprise me was how Tunisia had sex education and readily available abortion clinics to the public, despite having a traditionally conservative society. It was also surprising to see Michael Moore interview the head of the ultra-conservative Islamist Party in Tunisia, who had resigned from government a few years ago.
If I had to point out any flaws of the film, it could be that it is perhaps too funny. I think, given the subject matter of showing the flaws of just about everything in American life, he might have needed to give it a lot more of a serious tone and not make nearly as many jokes. I can only assume that Moore needed the jokes for the same reason a satirical news show like “Last Week Tonight” or “The Daily Show” would need jokes: to keep people’s attention. People tend to get bored and depressed when listening to horrible facts, so jokes might help lighten the mood and keep people’s attention.
I have always found that Moore’s style in previous films like “Sicko” and “Bowling for Columbine” is to make a joke, point out something terribly wrong, and then make a sarcastic comment. This style resonates here, and the film is informative, funny, and incredibly terrifying. But, he also points out how these “European” ideas all originated in the U.S. From free education, to abolishing the death penalty, to the 40-hour week. He questions how America could have just given up on these ideals while so many other countries embraced and thrived under them. Moore ends his documentary on a somewhat hopeful but ominous note.