The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



Doctored is the third medically-themed documentary I've seen this month, along with Steve James' concussion-centered Head Games and the highly provocative cancer doc Cut Poison Burn. I almost feel like I've got my cinematic PhD. at this point. All three of these films exemplify what I love about the non-fiction format. They come armed with information and points of view, and I walked away from all three feeling like I had things to learn more about.

This particular film focuses on “influencers” - people whose jobs are to shape the public's perception of medical treatments and medications. As its central hub, Doctored shows how the American Medical Association once launched a campaign to smear chiropractors, painting them as quacks - a stereotype they still struggle to get beyond today. Natural therapies in general are often depicted negatively by the medical establishment, despite evidence of their effectiveness. Patients are therefore afraid to try some of them, even if they'd help. Pharmaceutical companies come under fire too. The movie argues that they're not interested in bringing drugs that might cure ailments to market, because then they wouldn't be able to sell lots of refills. When you open up a magazine and see full page ads for anti-depressants and other meds, it's hard to deny that selling pills is a huge business. Drug companies don't want your doctor to tell you what to take; they want you to tell your doctor what you want to take. Isn't that extremely backwards?

Doctored features the requisite expert commentary, along with some rather compelling case studies. One person featured prominently is Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, a Houston cancer researcher whose groundbreaking non-toxic techniques have shown astonishingly promising results. His work has been repeatedly stymied by the medical establishment, which prefers patients suffer through the traditional chemo/radiation treatments and has subsequently made it difficult for them to see Burzynski. Interestingly, I'd seen him interviewed in Cut Poison Burn the day before seeing this documentary. If you are not familiar with the doctor, visit his website and learn more about his work. Many chiropractors are interviewed too, and there is testimony from patients who were successfully treated by them when “conventional” medicine didn't work.

You get plenty to chew on in Doctored. The film takes on the subject from a lot of different angles, perhaps even too many. At times, it doesn't feel as intently focused as it should. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of important information presented here. The message is clear: medicine is a money-making machine, and because of that, there are people/companies who want to make sure profit is maximized. When corporations and organizations put money before people – and they do – everyone should wake up and pay attention. Doctored is a thought-provoking call to arms on that front.

( out of four)

Note: For information on where/when you can see Doctored, please visit the official website.

Doctored is unrated but contains some adult subject matter. The running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

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