Judge Joel Pearce keeps antidote comedies on hand, just in case he reviews a "toxic comedy."
A toxic comedy about global warming!
While this will probably come as a shock to nobody by this point, global warming has become a serious environmental and political issue. While there are still a few naysayers, the evidence is building quickly, and most people now realize that our world may be heading towards complete and total disaster. Hot on the heels of another well-known global warming documentary, Everything's Cool tries to put a bit of savage humor into the global warming debate. It's not a bad documentary, but it never really accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Facts of the Case
The story of Everything's Cool starts a couple elections ago, as the team took a truck around the country to find out what people feel about global warming. This happened before it became a major issue, and the documentary then tracks how it could possibly be a non-issue at that time, and how scientists have since turned it into as large an issue as possible. Using interviews with government agents, scientists, and authors, the film seeks to demystify the relationships between research, big business, and government policy.
Sometimes, it's hard to judge a film purely on its own merits. Like a shark movie released shortly after Jaws, Everything's Cool will forever live in the long shadow cast by An Inconvenient Truth. To be fair, the initial premise of this film is far different. To separate it from Al Gore's teary-eyed presentation of grim facts, this film promises us a toxic comedy, using edgy wit and humor to slice through the arguments of the people who still refuse to see what's staring us all in the face.
This approach works great early in the film, as the producers interview ignorant citizens and make the government experts look like complete idiots. The first half delivers exactly what's promised on the cover, and it's a quickly paced and entertaining ride. None of it is new information, but it's delivered in a way that separates it from the environmental documentaries we've seen before. In the second half, though, they seem to forget the kind of film they are making. The style gradually falls into traditional territory, making the second half both pedestrian and disappointing.
Now I'm not saying that it becomes a bad documentary, because it doesn't. The second half contains excellent information, presented in an accurate and believable way. It has good interviews with reliable experts, intelligent commentary on the data, and a generous dose of sincerity. That's simply not enough, though, in a film that follows so closely in the footsteps of another film. We don't need another comprehensive documentary on the evidence of global warming, and Everything's Cool lacks the gravity and momentum that An Inconvenient Truth accomplished.
Maybe I've been unfair to judge it so closely with another film. It has different and authentic voices, after all, and will certainly appeal to the same audience. Those who want to learn even more about the global warming situation and how it has been covered up by the government and the oil industry. It clearly has its heart in the right place, and it's quite convincing. Unfortunately, its range of evidence is quite narrow, never doing much more than giving voice to experts and gaining experiential testimonies from people like ski resort specialists. Because of this, I expect that it won't do a very good job of convincing skeptics of global warming to change their minds and lifestyles. It really only exists as a reminder of things that we have already heard. It's an important reminder, of course, as we head into the next few years.
City Lights has done a fine job with this DVD release. True to its philosophy, Everything's Cool has been released in bio-friendly recycled packaging. This may be good for the environment, but my disc got pretty scratched up trying to slide it out from the slender pocket. The video transfer is excellent. Though some of the footage doesn't look great, they've done the best they could with old television footage. The audio is less impressive, presented in Dolby Digital Stereo, but it's never hard to understand the dialogue.
In the way of special features, City Lights has put together quite a few things for the fans of the film. There's a commentary track, which is amiable and pleasant to listen to. As well, there are quite a few extended interviews (thankfully relegated to this part of the disc). The other bonus menu is a collection of activism footage, showing how this film was actually used to promote the issue. It's the most interesting part of the disc, because it actually shows the impact of the film itself, which is something we see too rarely in bonus features.
Had Everything's Cool come out three years ago, it would have been a revelation. As it stands, it is simply another reminder of an important issue that we are hopefully paying attention to now. It really isn't a comedy as advertised, but it's a pretty good documentary.
I didn't laugh much during Everything's Cool, but that's okay. Not guilty.
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