Ryan Chartrand

While it’s certainly no “Bowling for Columbine” or “The Big One,” Michael Moore has finally made a film with a message that can make people on both sides of an issue think deep down, “You know, he makes a good point.”

“SiCKO,” Moore’s latest attempt at changing the way Americans think, is a brilliantly well-presented documentary that presents the facts (although biased and filtered), the lives of helpless people and his argument in a powerful blend of storytelling and comedy.

I’ll never forget watching the episode of Moore’s short-lived television show “The Awful Truth” when he held a mock funeral outside an HMO’s headquarters after they denied a man a pancreas that would save his life (the HMO gave him the pancreas after Moore made them look like fools). While Moore doesn’t concretely save any lives in “SiCKO,” his goal of getting across a broader message could very well save even more lives in the future.

Moore is always most convincing to both sides of any issue when he gets the “average American” humanized side to the story that makes it seem as though anyone who disagrees with him must be a heartless, greedy evildoer.

For the first half of the film, Moore doesn’t even step in front of the camera to add his dumbfounded facial expressions, but rather uses it as time to tell a few of the thousands of health care horror stories that he received in his inbox in 2006.

As Moore goes down the list of people who were denied treatment, the audience is forced to sympathize with those who died or are dying now so an HMO can make an extra buck. To really get the audience in tears, he tries to make it patriotic by presenting 9/11 heroes who are suffering from various health problems and can’t get or can’t afford treatment.

Once Moore steps in, the film takes a series of turns. First, it becomes a comedy as he travels to Canada, Britain, France and even Guantanamo Bay so that everyone can laugh at him and America’s health care system. Oh, those silly Americans and their privatized health care.

Second, the film starts to lose some credibility. While the change of pace to comedy and “Are we insane?” dialogue is certainly more entertaining and coincidentally more convincing, if you stop and think about it, Moore is applying his classic biased, filtering of facts method.

In Canada, he interviews a handful of people who say they have to wait 20 to 40 minutes to get treated in a busy hospital. Therefore the whole country has wonderful health care where everyone has short waiting lines? Being a Canadian myself, I can certainly say it isn’t like that everywhere and this is simply Moore using his brilliant methods to make everything seem simpler than it really is.

What Moore does pound home well, however, is the way of thinking that many Americans should learn from their friends in Canada, France and Britain. As Moore says, not until Americans stop thinking about “me” and start thinking about “we,” health care in the U.S. will remain the billion-dollar business that it is today. Are we really that cruel of people that we can allow HMOs to decide who lives and who doesn’t? Moore has mastered the art of simplifying a situation to show how ridiculous the way the U.S. government works (a debatable topic indeed).

While “SiCKO” is sure to fuel a whole new fire in the universal healthcare debate, Moore was surely successful in filtering his facts and creating some of his best comedic moments.

But he is most successful when he stresses the big picture. As he takes a shipload of Americans to Guantanamo Bay so they can get the same medical treatment that Al Qaeda is getting, Moore sends a strong message about what it means to be a human being in a country filled with people who need to remember they’re all in the same boat. It’s Moore at his best, and no one can deny that.

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