Rabble-rousing documentarian Michael Moore sets his sights on the American healthcare system.


on June 29, 2007 by Richard Mowe
A far more subdued Michael Moore is on view in his blast against the U.S. healthcare system—but the sting is still there, especially in the tail when he takes a bunch of 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba in search of better treatment. After dealing with blue-collar downsizing ( Roger & Me ), gun control ( Bowling for Columbine ) and the Iraq war ( Fahrenheit 9/11 ), the subject matter of Sicko may seem less universally appealing, but, as he points out, we all fall ill and we all have issues with the ethics of certain pharmaceutical companies.

Eschewing the easier target of the 45 million Americans who are said to be unable to afford health insurance at all, Moore instead focuses firmly on the 250 million citizens who supposedly can afford to pay for coverage but then discover they're not fully insured when they get really sick or are faced with unpalatable choices. By way of illustration, he profiles one man who cannot afford to have both the fingers he has lost in an industrial accident sewn on, necessitating he choose which one gets the treatment.

Moore remains omnipresent throughout, but this time out he is less bombastic, which works in his favor. Although he portrays himself as a lumbering innocent-at-large, posing the questions that nobody else would dare ask, he cannot keep his rapier-sharp wit and intellect in the shade for long as puts on the spot targets such as the big insurance companies, among them Horizon Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente. By contrast, he views the healthcare systems in operation in such countries as France (a group of expats extol the virtues of French medicine and ancillary services), Canada and the United Kingdom with a rose-colored hue. Nobody would deny him that the benefits are considerable compared to the States, but he could have taken a more critical view of some of the practices overseas.

Moore, despite all the accusations of manipulation and economies with the truth, is hard to resist and few others would be prepared to put themselves so firmly in the firing line in such a doggedly determined way. Naturally he remains his own best publicist, and the news that the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating him for breaking the country's trade embargo with Cuba and can only add grist to the mill. —Richard Mowe Distributor: Weinstein
Director/Screenwriter: Michael Moore
Producers: Meghan O'Hara and Anne Moore
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running time: 123 min.
Release date: June 22, 2007 NY, June 29 exp
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