** (out of 5)
June 29, 2007
Evil Health Care Executives
Studio: The Weinstein Company and Lionsgate
Directed by: Michael Moore
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Michael Moore is at it again. The controversial director has taken an issue from the national debate and given it his spin.
“SiCKO” already made headlines before its release due to it being pirated on YouTube and Moore himself becoming the subject of a Treasury Department investigation. And in many ways, the controversy of the film outweighs its actual impact.
Much of “SiCKO” is a cavalcade of hard-luck stories, the likes of which you see on every other episode of “60 Minutes,” “Frontline” and “Dateline NBC.” These range from the whiney (like the guy who has three heart attacks and suddenly can’t afford health insurance co-pays and premiums) to the criminal (like the woman who killed her own child arguing with doctors to treat her rather than driving the sick kid to a hospital that took her insurance).
Ultimately, there are no surprises in “SiCKO.” Once I heard that Moore was tackling the health care system, I thought it was an easy target. After all, is there anyone out there who would argue that there is no problem?
Moore’s problem is his solution. He touts “free” health care throughout America and the countries he visits. He even goes as far to say to the people in these hospitals that they don’t pay anything. Of course, he forgets that even so-called “free,” universal health care isn’t free, but paid for by tax dollars.
There was one moment in the film that gave me hope, and that was when he went to an affluent French family’s home to find out how they were doing with their tax burden. But while he managed to tell us practically everything about their financial and personal life – from their $8000 a month income to the sands they collected on holiday – he never lets us know what their tax burden really is. Knowing how much Moore obfuscates the truth, if he’s completely avoiding it, it must be astronomical.
It’s not that Moore is the first person to bring health care into the public debate. I don’t think it has ever left since Newsweek and Time Magazine were ripping apart the HMOs in the 1980s. Instead, Moore is riding a wave. People are concerned about health care, and it was going to be a campaign issue whether or not he released “SiCKO.”
The most common thing I’ve heard said about this movie is that Michael Moore has tempered his message and pulled back from the over-the-top propaganda that was “Fahrenheit 9/11.” But considering what a vitriolic mess of Bush bashing that film was, I don’t know how he could have made “SiCKO” more extreme.
Instead, he’s back to his same old tricks from “Roger & Me” and “Bowling for Columbine.” He continues to misrepresent even recent history that everyone knows. For example, he blames the Republicans for crushing Hillary Clinton’s health care debacle when it was a strongly Democratic House and Senate that voted that thing down.
But the worst part of the film is the 30-minute love letter to France that emerges half-way through. At one point, he completely abandons the health care debate and gushes over France like a virgin on prom night. Moore treats us to a round-table discussion by a gaggle of Americans living in France, praising the way the country has socialized everything from doctors and house calls to nannies and laundry.
Of course, Moore gobbles up publicity with no respect for other’s safety. For example, one of the 9/11 rescue worker details on film how she plans to bring back to the U.S. a suitcase of inhalers purchased in Cuba. What she doesn’t realize is that while these aren’t bags of hash or cocaine, this action could be considered drug smuggling, which results in massive fines and jail time.
Likewise, he documents a Detroit woman’s attempt to defraud the Canadian government in order to get an operation. While the Canadian government is happy to dish out “free” health care to their citizens, they’ll prosecute anyone form the U.S. posing as a Canadian in order to get the same.
Like every other movie made by Michael Moore, he has riddled the landscape with victims of his own “research” and “journalistic endeavors.” He stirs the pot without offering any sort of viable solution. And he twists around the truth so messily, it’s impossible to know what to believe and what to toss out as utter hogwash.