At his incendiary best, Michael Moore can flip your opinion of a subject on its head with a simple edit or humorous turn of phrase. At his unbearable worst, he comes across as a self-appointed voice of the people, one that we may not necessarily want or agree with, but one that he insists we need regardless. In the early days of Roger & Me (1989), Moore positioned himself as a righteous guerrilla documentarian, fighting the injustices of the world with grainy footage and sarcastic quips. However, as his films became more polished and popular, the charm began to wane and sections of his audience began to look past the persona, and started actually watching his films. Some noticed the fallacies in his research, the overwhelming political bias, and the questionable motives, and rightfully doubted whether or not Moore was actually making good films, or if his larger-than-life personality served as a distraction from flaws in his presentation.

After the disappointing and indulgent Capitalism: A Love Story (2009), Moore now returns with Where to Invade Next, a film that veers away from analysis in favour of light-hearted comedy, and though this version of Moore may be the most likeable we've seen in a long time, the material he explores once again suffers at the expense of his personality.

Gone is the snarky, holier-than-thou politics teacher leaning over your shoulder and telling you all the reasons why you're wrong and that he is right, replaced here by Moore as an affable and awkwardly endearing tourist who finds himself out of his depth in mainland Europe and beyond.

The premise of WTIN sees Moore visiting foreign countries to explore their best and most effective political, social and professional traits, with the aim being to bring these ideas back to America for implementation. Touching on Portugal's decriminalisation of drugs, Iceland's systematic gender equality, Tunisia's triumphant government overhaul and Finland's creative youth education, Moore plants his flag and states his claim that his country would function infinitely better as a smorgasbord of these various approaches to modern living, as opposed to what he perceives as a cluster-fuck of laws geared to nurture greed and injustice.

However, the globe hopping nature of the film rarely allows for anything more than a brief glance at each country and its endlessly smiling citizens, happily going about their day safe in the knowledge that they have 8 weeks of paid holiday to use up, or are ruled by a government that imprisons bankers for their gambles, and that they will not be tased just for having a bit of bud on them. It's all very optimistic, and Moore chooses not to mention the rise of the far-right in a number of these destinations, or their various degrees of financial crises, or their treatment of minorities, or their corrupt officials, instead focusing solely on the one policy he came for and airbrushing these countries into often unrecognisable leftist retreats.

Though a comedic Moore is relentlessly more preferable than the snarky predecessor we've seen in everything since halfway through Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), this version is remarkably less persuasive and concise. He rambles and jokes his way through interviews with Italians baffled at the concept of short lunch breaks, but never really tells us anything apart from how much he admires their attractive smiles and how happy they look. In Sicko (2007) he at least hammered into us facts, figures and a sense of impending doom, regardless of accuracy, but in WTIN informative content is sparse and momentary at best.

It's now been twelve years since Moore won an unexpected Palme D'or that positioned him in league with legendary filmmakers in the vein of Haneke, Fellini and Altman, but one wonders if his brand of brutally insistent documentary filmmaking has lost its edge, and if viewers are now beginning to see the flaws in his style as he deliberately makes his work more accessible and easy-going. WTIN is the strongest suggestion thus far that this may be true, and a strangely lacklustre change of pace and direction. Maybe the subject matter of his latest is more suitable for a different approach, as here he deals in suggestions rather than demands, but overall it lacks any kind of discernible punch or aftertaste. It might be the fact that this new dimension of the Moore character obviously reveals his tactic of completely omitting information that doesn't complement his idea, or it might be that the lack of a caustic, unmovable central figure cultivates a less intense viewing experience than we are used to, but I for one miss the old Michael Moore, the think as you're told Michael Moore, the sell 'til it's sold Michael Moore, and the angry and bold Michael Moore.