Like our current government, the American health care system is in a serious state of decline. Its initial purpose seems to have gone astray: No longer does it provide for those in need; it's rapidly serving only as a source of profit for money-grubbing insurance and drug companies.
It's a topic ripe for a Michael Moore polemic, right? Well, yes and no. Less bombastic, narcissistic and willfully fuzzy in its presentation of facts than the director's previous efforts, Sicko is Moore's most tightly-focused, least-polarizing doc to date. Simplifications still abound -- socialized medicine is glorious, France and Britain are problem-free health care havens -- but rarely has Moore been as heartfelt as he is here (though his voiceover often comes off as comically patronizing). Curiously, instead of highlighting the nearly 50 million Americans who are currently uninsured, Moore presents a parade of everyday people who are being jerked around by the outrageous tactics of insurance companies looking to slip through any and all loopholes in lieu of providing care. Yet for all of Moore's skill in showing us how our system is breaking (if not already broken), he offers little advice on how to fix it beyond that the proletariat needs to be better-informed citizens and voters. What, we're all supposed to move to Canada or -- gasp -- Cuba? Yes, in an ironic and caustically funny twist of fate that is also the film's most ludicrous stunt, Moore takes a group of ailing 9/11 rescue workers to the land of Castro to get the care they've been denied in the U.S. Sick indeed. (Jason Gargano) Grade: B