Washington Post Film Critic Pans Michael Moore's 'Anemic Checkup'

Washington Post movie critic Stephen Hunter panned the Michael Moore mockumentary "Sicko" in Friday's paper as "a fuzzy, toothless collection of anecdotes, a few stunts and a bromide-rich conclusion." Hunter wasn’t fond of Moore’s claim that health care in socialist countries is "free," but really unleashed on Moore as he traveled to Cuba and chronicled its supposedly excellent health care system:

Some of his stunts don't work out with nearly the comic explosiveness he seems to think they might. In one, for example, he takes his Sept. 11 rescue workers to the U.S. naval base at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, where, by archival film, he's established that the medical care for the incarcerated alleged terrorists is quite high, much higher than it's been for his Sicko Four. (He ignores the point that if it wasn't, the media would raise holy hell.)

He approaches the heavily guarded installation by small boat at sea and, pitching and churning in the waters of the bay, demands "better medical care for these American heroes than they can get at home!" The Navy is not amused. Someone pushes a siren button, and before the PT boats can be launched and the poor blue collar schlumps sitting there looking seasick are forced to go into a repel-boarders drill, Moore wisely turns tail. It's just sort of stupid.

But it's meant to set up the capital-I irony that in Dr. Castro's paradise, the rescue workers, having traveled up the island to Havana, are immediately taken into the finest of medical facilities, given free drugs and intensive care, and their health is rapidly improved by the TLC and the attention. What was the name of that facility? Oh, yeah, Potemkin Village Clinic for Abused Heroes of Fascist America, or some such. That's my little joke; the point is, what assurance is there that this care wasn't staged entirely for Moore's friendly cameras by the not-dumb apparatchiks of Cuba's excellent intelligence and propaganda service?

Since this is the Washington Post, Hunter then immediately tries to appease liberals who are now fuming over their fake bacon: "That said, the movie is partially redeemed, I would say, by Moore's own wit and class: He is a funny guy; who knew he was a noble one, too?" He reveals how Moore donated $12,000 to a Michael Moore hater for his wife’s health care.

Throughout the review, Hunter agrees the American health care system is badly broken, but concluded: "Someone has got to fix it, or make it fairer, negotiate the unbelievably complex issues and balance sound economic sense with fair play. America, fix your boo-boo. As for Moore, it can only be said: Filmmaker, heal thyself!"

Washington Post readers know that the Post used to write two sets of movie reviews on Fridays, one in the Style section, and another in the tabloid-size Weekend section. They now condense the Style section reviews for Weekend. Guess what? All of the paragraphs quoted in this blog are sliced out of the condensed Weekend review -- except the line about Moore's wit and class.

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