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by Michael Moore


IN SHORT: Highly recommended. [Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. 123 minutes]

The least political and egocentric offering from Michael Moore, a filmmaker who has never shied away from lobbing his politics, or ego, around like a hand grenade.

Put the name Michael Moore on anything and Conservative Talkradio will lock step into insult and criticize mode --- not that Conservative Talkradio does much more than insult and criticize; it complains a lot but never offers solutions, other than to "let the free market handle it." So it's probably appropriate that in Sicko, his latest work, Moore begins with a nod to the wide variety of medical and medical insurance products available to the American public. -- We are the greatest nation on earth. We're pretty close to the richest (...damn you Dubai!) -- and we sure know how to pull together and take care of each other. Hold that thought, it becomes important in a paragraph or two.

Moore does the unexpected in Sicko, which we expected to track a whole mess of non-insured, pain-wracked outsiders banging their heads against the locked doors of the medical system. You know, the usual. Not this time. Instead, Moore picks a handful of people who are fully insured and well employed and sitting on top of the world, confident that everything is taken care of and watches what happens . . . when something goes wrong.

Those of you with coverage know the drill, as do these lucky souls. You fill out a claim and see the doctor and the bill is taken care of because you have full company-paid insurance. Right? Come along. Watch. Real people. Full coverage. Total denial for reasons that make no sense to a logical mind -- ambulances that were not "pre-approved," yeast infections from five years earlier serving as the basis for a preexisting condition denial for situations that aren't gynecological, and so forth.

Then watch our politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, tell us in aging documentary footage (to) "be happy you're not in Canada, where socialized medicine means waiting 9 months for an operation or 8 hours to fill a prescription." Moore, of course, goes to Canada and checks out the story. And then hops the pond to check out England and France -- be sure to watch Sicko in a comfortable theater, folks. By the time it's done, you're gonna be so sick . . .

All you have to do is listen, folks. Moore doesn't do the one thing he's been guilty of in all his previous movies. He doesn't turn the topic around so it's about him. He doesn't rub your face in liberal politics. All he does is report, which is why the final part of the film is so emotionally wrenching for (us). Cranky is a New Yorker, for those who don't read too closely to other parts of this site, and we New Yorkers are very proud of and as protective of all the heroes of 9/11 as we can be. Tossing around that date tends to rile us. The final act of Sicko involves firefighters who responded to the World Trade Center attacks and who are now beset by all sorts of medical maladies. You may have been hearing some of these stories on the news lately -- it takes time to put a film together, even a documentary, so the coincidence is more difficult -- these heroes are dying and they aren't getting help. So Moore takes them to the one place you wouldn't even consider going. Cuba.

NeoCons are already smirking "but of course the Cubans are going to treat 'em well. They love that commie liberal bastard Moore. They'd love to rub our noses in it. . ." Now pause a moment -- these are 9/11 firefighters dying of whatever the hell they inhaled working on the debris pile --and consider why this should be a situation where Moore could rub (our) noses in it.

We're not going to put the usual dollar rating on this film siince Moore's work is controversial enough and we don't want to give yall any excuse not to see it. Those who fall into the "he's a commie liberal bastard" camp are urged just to take the two hours and consider the points the film makes about health care in the most powerful and wealty country on earth contrasted with care offered in the UK or France or <shudder> Cuba. Then, when you're home nestled in front of your radios, call in to Rush or whoever and ask what the devil (your) side is doing about this "health crisis."

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