Look, let's be honest here. I think even if you're a huge Michael Moore supporter you know damn well that he can be something of a blowhard, and that he, as any filmmaker has to, uses selective edits.
Frankly he cherry picks and garbage picks to his advantage.
So if you loathe Michael Moore, you're already likely offended enough that you'd never dream to go see his latest film. Set all that aside.
Go see it anyway.
Taking on the medical and health insurance industries -- boy does that sound exciting. And yet Moore doesn't go quite in the directions I assumed he would. Sure, he complains about high drug costs, but doesn't dwell on the pharmaceuticals industry or their pervasive nonsensical advertising. He talks about the recent Federal drug benefits for seniors, but doesn't dive into the morass of Plan coverages and gaps. There isn't much mention of the disparity of services between city and rural America, or state versus state. He doesn't even go into the maddening paperwork of insurance, its terminology gobbledygook or phone runaround which makes even someone with a Ph.D. in Applied Physics throw up their hands in disgust and leave the room.
What his message boils down to is that the American system is broken and what are we going to do about it? His solution would be a national health service, with coverage for all.
Moore's critics will no doubt point to the fact there is scant discussion to the millions of Americans whose health care works out or tried sufficiently hard enough to document the problems of national health in other countries. Though I will say that I recently read a comment about the Canadian system and the author pointed out that though there are waiting lists for some procedures, that the work eventually gets done -- not on demand. And frankly, you might not live long enough to wait for a kidney transplant in the U.S. system either.
And I'm sure the whole Cuba subplot, which in its own way makes an interesting set of points, probably goes on too long and surely allowed the Cuban government to set up some photo ops which are also not necessarily indicative of the true state of things.
Still, the sections filmed in Canada, Britain and France were fascinating. Moore asks his questions as if he were just a naive American as opposed to a calculating gadfly who already knows what the answers will be. And some of his stories will hit some buttons which will move you.
Overall, I found Sicko to be less preachy than his previous films, and to some extent, less polarizing. Given half a chance, it might be seen by a lot of people, and not just liberal, socialist, spend-a-lot Dems. Why a real discussion of health care could break out in this overdrawn '08 campaign season... but I won't hold my breath.
Go see it anyway.
Upon Further Reflection
I'm really hoping that a friend of mine, a real ER doctor, goes to Sicko and writes up his comments, because I'd like to see what someone who has to deal with all this needs to say.
For a country which professes to love freedom and self-reliance and self-determination, it frightens me that I know there are many people unable to leave their current jobs because a family member has something which would be classified as a pre-existing condition to a new employer's health plan. It frightens me that health care and pensions are disappearing from the workplace, rather than improving. And it frightens me that if one loses a job, through no fault of one's own, the descent from middle-class to the depths of society becomes disastrous without decent medical care.
Happy Independence Day