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Sicko (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

SICKO (2007)

Featuring Michael Moore, Reggie Cervantes, John Graham, William Maher, Linda Peeno, Tony Benn, Richard M. Nixon, Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush.

Screenplay by Michael Moore.

Directed by Michael Moore.

Distributed by Lionsgate Films and The Weinstein Company. 123 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Michael Moore – non-partisan?

Is that possible? Could this finally be the first sign of the cooperative, party-blind United States we were scammed with seven long years ago when Bush was appointed into office? Or could it be the first sign of the apocalypse?

Either way, Michael Moore's Sicko has been acclaimed right across party lines. Hell, even the Fox News Channel (a/k/a the Republican Party public relations division) called it a masterpiece – and I don't think they were just trying to mess with Moore's head. Long-time Moore detractors have been trumpeting its virtues. It is getting very few of the non-specific charges of inaccuracy that are normally tossed out by conservatives who want to taint Moore's data but don't have the facts to actually do so.

Oh, brave new world...

I wish I could say that the across-the-board embrace of Sicko was evidence of a kinder, gentler political climate of collaboration and goodwill. It's just the Moore has tapped into a subject that is so universal (pun sort of intended) that other than the insurance and drug companies and hospitals being investigated, almost no one can argue.

The greed and sometimes inhumanity of insurance companies, drug companies and managed health care has been – deservedly – a blight on American society for generations. When life or death becomes a profit driven concern, it is only natural that the people will be the big losers.

Even the most hardened corporate mind would understand that, though they may not be moved to change things if the margin is good enough. They are not totally heartless. As Moore shows one of the insurance industry's biggest lackeys in the Congress, Louisiana rep W.J. "Billy" Tauzin proving his family values by saying over and over again "I love my mama" (before leaving the House to take a sweet private position with the drug lobby.). The problem is, as Moore points out, just because they love their mamas doesn't necessarily mean they love ours.

As is Moore's greatest strength, he puts a human face on the health care battle. He talks to American citizens who did actually have insurance and still were failed by it. Their stories are tragic; these good, proud people thinking they were safe because they had been paying premiums for years only to find themselves in a mountain of red tape when their claims were declined for stringent, arbitrary, and unreasonable infractions.

Then Moore visits countries that have universal health care systems – socialized medicine as the right-wing scare machine likes to refer to it – such as Canada, England, France, even Cuba. Sicko shows how their system is not only more compassionate, but even more efficient than the US.

In all fairness, this is the one part of Sicko that can be slightly questioned for Moore's journalistic bias. While he briefly touches on the fact that this is not charity in the other countries and they are taxed for the privileges, Moore never really delves into the amounts involved. This is not giving the full picture. Chances are people would be willing to pay these extra taxes for what they get in return -- particularly considering that they would no longer have to pay health insurance.

Moore also does one of the stunts for which he is always derided by his detractors... but surprisingly it indirectly leads to some of the most touching scenes in Sicko. Moore gathers some ill survivors of the World Trade Center cleanup and takes three boats of patients to Guantanamo Bay – where the supposed "evil-doers" are given completely free health care.

It is no surprise that they are not allowed on the base. Even Moore could not have ever been expecting that. However, while in Cuba – long derided as evil and heartless – the medical system opens its arms to the survivors and gives them all the treatment they were denied. For free. Drugs which cost $120.00 in the US are purchased for a nickel.

It again makes you wonder – who is primitive and who is humane?

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2007 All rights reserved. Posted: July 24, 2007.


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