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Written by: Michael Moore
Directed by: Michael Moore
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running Time: 113
Date: 19/05/2007

Sicko (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Unhealthy, the Wealthy and the Wise

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Sicko on DVD

Michael Moore returns with another propaganda film, but it's important to remember that a "propaganda film" isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's bad if, for example, you're trying to get people to join the Nazi party (as in Triumph of the Will), but the definition is merely: "information that is spread for the purpose of promoting a policy, idea, doctrine, or cause." Moore's cause here is to emphasize the truly dreadful state of health care in the United States, while illustrating how well the free systems work in other countries. He points out how we already have several "socialist" systems in place, such as schools, libraries, police and fire departments, etc. He presents cases in which a little girl died because her mother arrived at a hospital that wouldn't accept her insurance policy, while in France a similar case was taken care of with no charge.

His big stunt, and the movie's most devastating scene, has Moore taking several 9/11 volunteer rescue workers, who are now suffering from various ailments, to Guantanamo Bay. According to Moore's research, the Al-Qaeda terrorists being held there receive top-notch medical care for free, so he reasons that these same facilities should be able to treat his volunteer workers. Turned away, they wind up in Havana, Cuba, where they each receive a diagnosis and a potential solution to their problems. It's absolutely overwhelming to see these men and women driven to tears by Cuba's unexpected kindness after the cruelty of their own country's system. Moore blames greedy politicians who accept money from powerful insurance companies and drug companies, and traces the whole thing back to Nixon. Another theory says that Americans are afraid of their powerful government, when it should actually be working for us.

While so many liberal documentaries are angry and dour, Moore's approach is refreshingly funny and playful, with tricky editing that approaches a sequence skeptically before discovering the "truth." Certainly, his view of European health care doesn't present a complete and unbiased picture, but it does offer a viewpoint that Americans may be unfamiliar with. His Bowling for Columbine (2002) resulted in K-Mart pulling ammunition from its shelves. So it's possible Sicko could bring shame upon those who deserve it and potentially save future lives.

DVD Details: The new DVD from the Weinstein Company comes with nine featurettes running from between five and ten minutes each. It looks like most were shot (or at least edited) after the film's completion, and each continues in the same vein, sometimes rebutting remarks made by the film's detractors. The disc also includes an "interview gallery," a trailer and a music video.

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