Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
TIFF2015 – Film #2
Reason for pick: Michael Moore
Michael Moore’s secret project, known only to him and his crew, and referred to by the crew as ‘Michael’s Happy Film’, was unleashed on the world for the first time tonight, safely away from his home country. In some ways the film is a departure from previous Moore ‘docs’, but in other ways it’s another heaping helping of what’s come before. I you like, and are entertained by Moore films, you’re sure to be so with this. If you hate the man, his style, and his propensity to be fast and loose with the facts, then there’s a tiny chance you might just hate this one a little less. I find myself in the former camp, and was completely entertained, as was the premier TIFF audience.
The primary difference here is instead of Moore doggedly hunting down and verbally attacking his perceived Evil Doers on U.S. soil, he takes a new tack that he’s going to become America’s new Secret Weapon. Instead of the expensive, failed, military missions intended to secure America’s interests, he would take over as a much more economical and strategic single-man invasion force; invading countries around the world, and stealing valuable ideas to bring back to the U.S.A.
Moore is a showman, and there’s no denying that. As he stealthily sneaks past ever European boarder, the TIFF crowd was kept in stitches, with laugh-out-loud moments coming quickly and easily. As per his style, the laughter is mixed with doses of poignancy that teetered on the edge of overdramatic, but never crossed the line.
Watching and listening to Moore on stage live during the Q & A was a special treat. He’s such a big cherub baby, filled with boundless energy and wit. When asked if he was in a more optimistic state of mind now, as the film is so exuberant, he countered that he was at his lowest point in optimism, and he made the film, in part, to inspire him.
He certainly wants to entertain, and he does that in spades, and he says that desire is mixed with his hope his films inspire social activism … especially, as he said on stage, that he’s tired of being the poster boy drawing all the fire on right wing media. Without being asked, he offered that he’d write the critics headline for them ( there is a segment in the film praising Italy’s social practices ) ‘Italy’s in the crapper just behind Greece … or why didn’t you invade Greece’. He opined that he knew he would get that reaction while making the film, and that he wanted to bring back things that would inspire rather than depress .. ‘I’d rather pick the flowers than the weeds’.