Sicko. Directed by Michael Moore. Written by Michael Moore. Starring (well… he’s in front of the camera and does the voiceover) Michael Moore. Slicko, maybe. It’s not easy to like (even harder to admire) Michael Moore: self- aggrandizing, self-advertising, scruffy, overweight (think he’s actually fatter now than he was in front of camera and doing voiceover for Fahrenheit 911… anything-but-mute testimony to the inadequacy of health care in Michigan—one of those funny-shaped states out West sommeres—at least), sanctimonious, I-know-better’n-you Bolshevik (variously spelt), who comes right out and says the word: socialism (hasty Sign of the Cross). It’s not easy to like (even harder to admire) the guy, buuuuuuut… like the blind squirrel of legend, he may just have found an acorn this time out. His premise is that people are poorly cared-for in our great Republic, in evidence of which thesis he trots out the lame, the halt, the afflicted, and notably—if not surprisingly—the poor. Sadly, these people aren’t easy to like, either. They whine and snivel and sob about their woes, genuine, so far as I can tell though whether self-inflicted is far from clear because Moore truncates the stories (one wonders what’s happening, what’s happened just out of camera range). Anyhow, not much noble stoicism in the waiting room, alas. Even so, while these the lesser of God’s creatures ought to command pity (if not sympathy), the American health care edifice seems to fetch up none for them. Sooooooooo… So, let’s look at other cultures (some easier to like, to admire than others) to see how they treat denizens of that demi-monde where those debilitating next-level diseases seem to lurk (Tourette’s, Down’s, Huntington’s, Pitney-Bowe’s, Cadwell Massey’s, and on and on) and even perhaps the so-called Forgotten Man of the thirties (the tax-payer and bon bourgeois—Babbitt, in a word—who’s stable, maybe comfortable, but subject to financial undoing). Moore trundles first over to En-guh-land, where he snags prescription medicine from a state Pharmacy for thruppence ha’penny quid (about eleven cents, best I can figure… or six thousand Euros), anytime admittance to emergency rooms with no waiting where friendly, hovering health care professionals (they wear white over there, just like real doctors). Moore interviews one (obviously Levantine… and you wonder if, in view recent events like, oh, say, petrol bombs and Land Rovers ™, an MD of Middle Eastern persuasion in British Isles might not wanna lay low instead of bleat about his Audi into microphone in front of camera, but hey…) doctor who feigns astonishment at the suggestion of a wait for medical services or of billing (he actually chuckles) for said services. He lives with his high cheekbones, pouty lips, tight skirt fee- male wife of the uptown persuasion in his cost a “million Pounds” apartment (a Pound is, like, fourteen Euros, pretty sure), so there’s no question of physicians’ being undervalued in Britain… as the dark myth circulates over here (endless waits, poor pay for doctors, [Two)] Third[s] World providers… ooopsy daisy, well, mostly myth…), fomented by fiendish (Moore furnishes an authentic black-and-white clip in which the sometime President of the AMA actually does foment … and fiendishly… and hilariously!) minions of the American (ptui!) medical profession. Now it’s Canada where relatives of Michael Moore (also fat, forgive me) refuse to cross the border into the United States for fear of a catastrophic malady, the which Canadian health care does not cover (they recite a horror story about some Canuck who fetched up with a hangnail and cost him thirty thousand Dollars in Miami…which is a city in Florida or Louisiana—one of them--and like a billion Euros). Moore drags us through managed care of the Canadian flavor, and once again it’s perfect: no waiting, no cost; clean, efficient, humane. One American woman goes so far as to take a Canadian paramour, the commonlawness of whose relationship allows her cross-border access to the endless Là Haut pharmacopeia… until—ooopsy daisy—Moore’s cameras get spotted and the woman gets dragged off and beaten to death like one of those baby seals. Nah… just kidding. She simply goes to another waiting room to score the Ritalin ™ for little Farnsworth. Jean-Luc, her Canadian lover, looks on benignly, registering mild curiosity over all the fuss for something he takes for granted. Next… brace yourself for outrage. France! A gaggle of expatriates smirks around the table in an ill-lit brasserie (they sell foundations garments, flaky egg-based French pastry and little sissy cups of unmanly European coffee, talk about unmanly French philosophy and worse) recounting their satisfaction with free, waitless, modern French health care and how they’ve abandoned America (Ptui!) for eternal youth, no-cost care, unmasculine beverages. A French doctor (obviously coached) professes amused bewilderment when asked about costs, delays, untreated treatments, unscanned scans, or unauscultated um, er… cults. “The government here is afraid of the people,” announces one fee-male expatriate, clearly from a Northeastern urban complex and just as clearly a Commie; “In America the people are afraid of the government. An unkind observer might be churlish enough to suggest that over there, the government is afraid of everybody, but hey… Last straw, of course, is the already bruited-about windup to this flick. If the sniveling, wellness-obsessed, calamity-terrorized urbanites produced so far are unlikable or unworthy of admiration, the next clutch of outcasts is of an undisputed nobility: they’re rescue workers who labored in the ashes of the Trade Towers to fish out the sad remains of victims and who for their trouble (and courage) sucked down all sorts of ugliness (into their souls, their lungs) yet who for some reason can’t extort treatment out of American facilities. Moore’s brilliant gesture (remember that blind squirrel…) is to stow this whole crew of bleeding, convulsing, decaying infirms into a fishingboat and shuttle them to Cuba… where, naturally enough, the Gringos run them off from the American side but where the Cubans (tipped off, I’m assuming) embrace them with abundant, cloying (and socialist) humanity, gently assuring one lachrymose woman with a manly (if Hispanic) hug that “It will be all right.” Hold on while I brush away a tear. You find yourself, despite misgivings about Moore’s “documentary” approach, outraged by the indifference of bureaucracy to suffering, anybody’s to anybody’s. Moore probably fudged a batch of this stuff. Trouble is… if he didn’t? Probably did. Yeah, but…if he didn’t?