Love the guy or hate him, there's little denying that filmmaker Michael Moore is a pretty controversial figure. Plus the guy deserves credit for bothering to tackle issues that affect us all ... but very few people actually talk about. After earning supporters and detractors in equal measure with Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, Mr. Moore is back with a documentary that takes a very close look at the problems plaguing the American health care system -- and frankly I can't think of a better target for Moore's particular brand of everyman wrath.

Although he has polarized audiences in the past, what with all his soapbox politics and arguments about liberal this and conservative that, Moore's latest film is also one of his most confident ... and most plainly dramatic. But there's a lot of great points to be found in Moore's Sicko -- especially if you've been wondering how America's health care "providers" have become so damn powerful. If there's a "Big Brother" out there, it's got to be the connection between U.S. government and our nation's shamelessly backwards health care system. And frankly I'm pretty thrilled to see that someone's taking these mega-corporations to task for their money-grubbing and astonishingly callous ways. Anyone who's dealt with denied service or a farcical bill from the medical care provider will find something to appreciate in Sicko. And best of all, this time around Moore is attacking an issue that hurts us all, from the blue-bloodiest conservative Republican to the tree-huggiest liberal Democrat. When someone gets really sick, political affiliation probably isn't the most important thing to worry about, and Mr. Moore is to be commended for keeping (most of) his own political leanings out of the equation. Sicko simply wants to show you what the richest country in the world does to take care of its sick people -- and then he wants to show you how things go down if you get sick in Canada, Great Britian, France and ... Cuba. Yep, Cuba.

From the earliest inception of our ass-backwards health system to the most serious problems facing unwell Americans today, Sicko takes firm aim on its target and it never lets up. Some of the less open-minded viewers will walk away from Sicko thinking "Well hey, if Moore hates America so much, let him go live in Canada, Great Britain, France or Cuba! According to this movie, they're all paradise for sick people!" But obviously Michael Moore doesn't hate America; he hates the fact that a great country has been infested by special interest groups, money-grubbing lobbyists, and political "favors" that serve the rich while (literally) burying the poor. Frankly I don't know how Mr. Moore can maintain such a breezy attitude while discussing these travesties. Were I the one digging into this sort of information, my movie would be nothing but fist-shaking, screaming and spittle showers.

If you're a very wealthy person who cares only for your immediate family and (maybe) some friends, then Sicko will probably mean nothing to you. Nowadays America is a "watch your own ass and nothing else" location, but if you're a compassionate person who actually DOES care for people you've never even met, then you'll find a lot of food for thought in Moore's latest film. Is it that Brits and Canadians actually care MORE for their citizens than we do? One's first response would have to be "No, of course not. We just do things differently here." But ask yourself that question one more time after sitting through the 2-hour ethics lesson that is Sicko. If other countries can figure out a way to take good care of the poor, the frail, the sick and the helpless -- there's got to be a way American can do it too. Or perhaps we're just too far gone at this point. And all things considered, while I love my country and I'm proud to be an American, I'm getting older every day -- and that Canadian health care system is looking pretty damn good to me.

As far as the movie itself goes, Moore does a damn fine job of bringing "hidden" information to light in a fast-paced and surprisingly entertaining fashion. If the filmmaker pushes a few too many 'sympathy buttons' in the film's third act, he can probably be forgiven: He's been watching young Americans die for no good reason. And if Sicko ends up causing even the slightest positive changes in the American health care system, then Michael Moore is officially a life-saver. To me that's just a little more important than "liberal vs. conservative," isn't it?
categories Reviews, Cinematical