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"Sicko"

Directed by Michael Moore.
Written by Michael Moore.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  7/10/07

Folks--

Oh, that Michael Moore...always stirring up trouble!

His newest documentary, "Sicko", profiles the American health care industry; through interviews with individuals who have been wronged by the system and data dug up by Moore and his researchers on just how much of an influence drug companies and health care firms have on the government lobby, Moore's film covers just how much of a mess our system might be in...for only the first half of his movie.  It's the second half that might raise eyebrows for those who are unaware...Moore travels to Canada, Britain, France and Cuba to profile just what those health systems cost for the average consumer:

Nothing.

By going into great detail about how these four places can provide free health care (or, at least, as close to free as possible, especially in Cuba's case) for all of its citizens, Americans look like a big ol' bunch of dummies when Moore is through, which is certainly one of his goals but is tricky for the educated film consumer, who knows that even their man Michael hasn't given us all of the facts worth considering.

So, while this documentary is great, it leaves some things to be desired, especially for those (i.e., Meg and I, who watched this in San Francisco after the 4th of July) who knew coming in that...

  1. ...Canadians get free health care.  In fact, I think most Americans know that, but then again, most Americans don't know where Montana is, so maybe I shouldn't make that assumption.  (Duh...Montana is just outside of New York.)  This makes for a 15-minute section of the film where Moore interviews dumbfounded Canadians (sample dialogue from street-wise Canadians: "Yeah, I really don't get why Americans would want to spend money on health care"), follows a woman who skips our border for Canada (admittedly, quite amusing), and interviews a family friend (Moore discloses this, to make sure you don't feel too much over-the-top-ness) who again sits baffled, wondering why Americans pay for health care.

  2. ...maybe health care is free in Britain, but strangely unmentioned is that in London (where Moore's coverage in the film takes place), shit is CRAZY expensive.  I want to say that New York, Tokyo, and London are almost always named as the most expensive cities in the world, but I don't have my facts in front of me.  Maybe the health care is free, but if rent in London averages like $3,000/month in the lowbrow parts of town, health care SHOULD be free.

  3. ...any country where residents are living off the Euro is going to be more expensive relatively-speaking than it will be for the average US consumer...so, cost of living should always be included in the conversation around health care savings, especially when you consider that if you are healthy, you are receiving no benefit (since there's nothing to take advantage of).  No doubt, this issue hits hardest when you think about the roughly 50 millions Americans who don't have health care and then get injured...that's gotta suck either way.

  4. ...even having not been to Cuba before, the scenes near the end of the film that take place in a hospital in Havana are really not representative of what I have heard, what I have read, and what friends of mine have actually seen in visiting clinics in Cuba from a staff, equipment or facilities perspective.  To show us what kind of care the 9/11 volunteers received (these are folks who attempted to reach Guantanamo Bay with Moore) is a little shady but it helps wrap up the film, even if it's not quite in line with the other bits of the second half of the movie.

"Sicko" is still very entertaining throughout; Moore does an excellent job of mixing up the pace between funny & silly paperwork/process bureaucracies, serious stories of human loss due to care screw-ups, and informative bits on what other services are included in France's free health care systems (like laundry, nanny, and babysitting services for those in need).  As usual, I still think there is too much Michael Moore in the standard Michael Moore movie, but that doesn't hurt too much, either.  Overall, I liked the film, but I didn't think it was quite at the level of "Fahrenheit 9/11" or even "Bowling for Columbine" from a raw power point of view.  Check it out!

Rating:  $9.50 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09