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Michael Moore wants to make America great again.

So in his new movie, the alternately enlightening, amusing and frustrating “Where to Invade Next,” the Michigan documentarian travels to a handful of European countries (with a stopover in Tunisia) to see how they handle everyday issues like college education and homework in schools.

What he finds is, at times, fascinating: School lunches in France are delectable, multi-course affairs, far from the slop being served in American schools. And prison sentences in Norway are served out in the equivalent of tiny studio apartments, while guards don’t carry firearms.

When viewed against the backdrop of America, many of Moore’s findings are disheartening. Why can’t we have nice things? And Moore, taking on his everyman role, delights in sharing that many of the programs and policies he highlights are founded on American ideals.

But he undercuts many of his points with his disingenuous approach, where he feigns naivete in order to better serve his agenda. When discussing Italy’s generous vacation policies, he tells an Italian couple he doesn’t know anyone in America who gets four weeks paid vacation. Oh, come on. (He also has a irksome habit of repeating his subject’s points for emphasis.)

Moore presents the film inside of a rickety framing device that doesn’t work, planting American flags at each of his “invasions” and claiming the policies and ideologies as America’s property, detracting from their impact.

“Where to Invade Next” rides a refreshing current of optimism, but it is too often bogged down by the captain of its ship. Mike just can’t get out of the way of himself.

agraham@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/grahamorama

‘Where to Invade Next’

GRADE: B-

Rated R for language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity

Running time: 119 minutes

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