Sicko
Director: Michael Moore (Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 911)
Producers: Michael Moore, Meghan O'Hara
Starring: Michael Moore, a bunch of decent, hard working Americans
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 113 min
read my spoiler disclaimer



reviewed by Andrew James
     Sitting down to watch Moore's newest propaganda piece, I had mixed emotions. Part of me was excited to see Moore's near-genius style of film making cover a new topic: healthcare. And Part of me was dreading having to sit through another America bashing "documentary." Unfortunately and fortunately respectively, it was neither of these things.

      The best way to explain how good a Michael Moore film is, is to compare it with his other films. Though I haven't seen Roger & Me, Columbine and Fahrenheit were fascinating pieces of film making that are clever and terribly entertaining. And although it's easy to tell that Moore has done his homework and has put hours of hard work into this latest attack on a corporate system, it's also by far his least entertaining.

      Having said that, it's also probably his most mature film to date. He appears to really take seriously what he's complaining about this time and also genuinely seems to care about the current American Health Care System and the people that are victimized by it and their insurance providers. Taking everything with a grain of salt is a must with any Moore film, but here the people he interviews and carries on with are genuinely hurting people and it's easy to feel sorry for them. In this way, Moore comes off as compassionate and puts his ego aside (until a surprise gesture towards the end of the film regarding one of his arch-nemeses).

      The film starts in America. Not focusing on the 50 million people without health insurance, as Moore states, but on the 250 million of us with insurance. This of course, was before the implementation of the new health insurance marketplaces. These are the ones being scammed and victimized the film explains. So we sit down with various Americans, learn their plight (cancer, fingers cut off, lung disease, etc) and learn of their misfortune when it comes to being able to pay the bills and receive treatment. After this, I thought maybe there would be an in-depth look into the system and the whys and hows for the reasons it is broken. But no, we next travel to Canada where we interview some people (just like in Bowling for Columbine) that explain how amazing the health care system is there. We spend about 20-25 minutes on this subject. Next it's off to Britain where we do the exact same thing and interview the exact same types of people and learn that the health care system there is amazing (not to mention "free"). This takes another 20 minutes or more. So then we travel to France and do the whole thing all over again. We've now spent over an hour going from country to country, interviewing the same types of people and just getting the same repetitive answers. For a film that is less than two hours in length, this is repetition overload and not enough good, solid, investigative reporting and ideas that Moore usually introduces us to.

      Lastly, we head to Cuba; which ends up being basically the same message that we've already heard now three times. This one is slightly more interesting, as this time, Moore brings along with him several sick people that we've met throughout the course of the film and they all receive treatment (which has gotten Moore into a heap of trouble with homeland security). So the film is basically broken up into four parts that really just tell us the same thing over and over again: American healthcare sucks and everyone else is great. Tell me something I don't know.

      That's it. There really isn't much else to delve into in a review of Sicko without just repeating facts and moments in the film. Michael Moore has built his reputation on being controversial, clever and most importantly amusing. Sicko is really none of these things (except going into Cuba) and it is too bad he wasn't able to be more creative. Sure there's a little bit of politician bashing (including a hard rip on Hilary Clinton I wasn't expecting) and some 50s style propaganda films spliced in for effect, but all in all there are none of the signature Michael Moore moments to really get our blood boiling or our faces smiling.

      In this way, as I said, it is probably his most mature film to date; taking on a serious subject with serious consequences. But maybe maturity isn't always a good thing when it comes to film making. Maybe we need some immaturity to keep us involved in the project. Alas, we are left with repetition and unoriginality.

      It's no secret that politically speaking I'm not a big fan of Moore. But as an objective film commentator I can honestly say that his films usually interest me and are fun to watch and I always learn something; ending in a fairly positive review. None of these things happened for me in my screening of Sicko. Honestly, I just got bored about half way through and was longing for something to tear me away from the tedium. We needed a Marilyn Manson interview (who's always brilliant) or Trey Parker and Matt Stone to fill the gaps with some amusing anecdote.

      It's not a bad film by any stretch, it's just not that good either. It's boring and tedious and deosn't really tell us anything we don't already know. I think Moore has probably cut back on the "embellishments" and twists that he likes to put on his facts and that might account for some lack of funness or ingenuity. It has a couple moments of worth, but in the end, I just needed something Moore.



Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer


Links:
IMDb profile - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER PROFILE Sicko




 





andrew@moviepatron.com