Normally, the problem with reviewing a Michael Moore movie is, well, Michael Moore. With films like “Bowling For Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 911,” Moore ranted and raved, displayed out of context footage, manipulated subjects and in many people’s minds, lied. His cinematic slight of hand caused me to view him as the PT Barnum of documentary film making.
Moore’s latest target is the American health care system, specifically, the health insurance industry. And what an easy target it is. While many Americans rejected Moore’s attempt to term limit President George W. Bush through clever propaganda, few will admit that change to our health care system is not needed. We can all relate in some manner to the fact that insurance companies have a bottom line mentality that seeks profit over people.
To support his point, Moore introduces us to a parade of people with sad stories to tell. The sick, the injured and those left behind from dead loved ones all tug at your heart strings to the point that if you went into the film disliking Michael Moore, you just might at some point yell “UNCLE”, and confess that we do need to make changes. This is a slight shift in strategy for the controversial writer/director/producer of “SICKO.” Here, he manages to avoid always pointing the finger of blame towards evil conservatives and instead sticks to raising valid questions. His approach is much more palatable to those that don’t share in his disdain for our country.
He also gives us a fascinating look into the health care systems in Canada, England and France. Moore obviously has an affection for the French and in my opinion spent just a little too much film time on them. However, his presentation was a very effective way to support his position on socialized health care. You may not agree with where he stands on the issue, but he did a good job getting there. If this were a high school debate class project, Moore would probably receive an A for his presentation.
If I could be so bold as to give one piece of advice to Michael Moore, it would be to stop doing his own narration. Imagine if Morgan Freeman, the beloved voice in “March of the Penguins,” were to lend his talent to this project. It could just add a feather of credibility to Moore’s cap and be a more pleasant experience for those that don’t like him or his smarmy commentary. After all, you do attract more bees with honey. I would suggest a majestic voice like Charlton Heston, but he is no longer with us.
Finally, the documentary seemed to want the big climax to be the one we have all heard about. In typical Moorish fashion, he brings several sick people to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for treatment of their ailments; all while holding an American Flag, mugging for the camera, and pointing out that, for captured terrorists, health care is free. I found this publicity stunt to fall a bit flat. By this time, the director had already proven his point and thus it was unnecessary. At times, in this film and his others, Michael Moore has the need to feed his ego by appearing in his own documentary. You can almost see him pat himself on his back for being so clever. In “SICKO,” however, he tones it down a few notches and most of the time lets the questions speak for themselves. If he continues to get out of the way while making his points, he may just win some converts to his causes.
I give this movie a 9 out of 10.
Reviewer Dan Kulp, is the lead vocalist for rock band The Dig Project. Visit him online at www.myspace.com/thedigproject.
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