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Documentary filmmaker and progressive activist Michael Moore, 61, has spent his career in a single-minded - some would say mendacious, mean-spirited, and wrongheaded - critique of America's economic and social structure.

From his debut, Roger and Me (1989), to his magnum opus, 2009's Capitalism: A Love Story, Moore has subjected institutions from Wall Street to the health-care industry to the NRA to his wrath.

Moore changes it up in a big way in his latest doc, Where to Invade Next. It's not a critique but a rather graceful, witty, and stylish film that offers possible solutions to the problems Moore believes plague the United States. He finds them in Europe and North Africa.

An upbeat, happy film free of Moore's usual sarcasm and his tendency to upstage the material with his ego, Where to Invade Next takes the director to France, Italy, Germany, Finland, Portugal, and Tunisia.

Moore concedes that he looks only at each country's positive achievements and ignores its problems. He uses each country to illustrate one way government can help citizens navigate through the various stages of their lives - education, employment, parenthood, and retirement. Moore celebrates the ways these countries have found to temper capitalism with strict regulations and a solid set of social-welfare programs.

In Italy, he chats with a couple about a law that compels employers to provide up to 22 weeks of paid maternity leave. As Moore reminds viewers, America is the only country in the world besides Papua New Guinea that doesn't have such a law.

In France, he hangs out at a public school that treats the lunch hour as part of the curriculum. The school chef cooks fresh meals daily using local ingredients. It's far cheaper per head, Moore argues, than the gross frozen food that American schools buy in bulk.

He visits a factory in Germany where he learns that, by law, rank-and-file employees must make up 50 percent of each company's governing board. Another law forbids bosses from contacting employees who are on vacation.

These examples show that Europeans - at least those Moore profiles - value quality of life far more than wealth.

Where to Invade Next is Moore's most radical film because it shows there are countries that refuse to shape policy according to the logic of profit and wealth alone, but also factor in the notion of the public good.

The higher taxes their citizens pay goes to establish free health care, cheap day care, well-funded public schools. If those needs are met, Moore argues, people are less likely to be obsessed with wealth and more concerned about forming social bonds.

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