[Screen It]

(2006) (Al Gore) (PG)

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Documentary: A filmed version of Al Gore's presentation warning about the impact that global warming will have on our and future lives on Earth.
Former Vice-President and one-time Presidential candidate Al Gore brings his long-running, multi-media presentation about global warming to the big screen. Utilizing scientific fact and speculation, along with charts, before and after photos, film footage and personal views on the subject matter, the politico makes a compelling if one-side argument about the effects of humankind's impact on the environment and the potential future implications and ramifications of that.
OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
Upon first hearing his voice-over narration and then catching sight of former Vice-President Al Gore in the global warming warning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," the first thing that popped into my head was Darrell Hammond's quite funny impression of the comedically stiff but intellectual politico on TV's "Saturday Night Live."

After all, that's pretty much the last time we saw much of the Veep and former U.S Senator following his unsuccessful and hotly contested bid to become the next President of the United States back in 2000. Yes, there were sightings of him in full beard and packing on some extra poundage, but he otherwise disappeared from sight.

But he's back in fine form in this compelling if rather one-sided documentary that's essentially a gussied up, filmed version of the global warming presentation he's been giving for years all around the world. And he starts off his presentation with a bit of Hammond-esque humor. Following the audience laughter that immediately accompanies his introductory line that he used to be the next President of the United States, Gore delivers the deadpan line, "I don't find that particularly funny."

Nor does he regarding the subject matter, but that somewhat folksy approach at breaking the ice (pun intended) helps shatter his previously stiff image and helps make both him and the topic at hand more readily accessible. And it's some serious stuff if you're to believe the facts and/or allegations Gore brings forth via speaking points, PowerPoint type computer slides, still photos, film footage and some personal, introspective moments.

The latter somewhat stick out like sore thumbs as he talks of his son's near death experience, the death of his sister from lung cancer following their family's involvement in farming tobacco, his loss in the presidential race and more. The points he makes regarding those incidents are connected to the thrust of his argument (in terms of motivating him and/or changing his ways of thinking), but they otherwise feel a little too self-indulgent.

The bigger problem, however, is that as a "documentary" it's too one-sided. While I happen to agree with much of what the film touts, it doesn't allow a word in edgewise from the opposing or at least a cross-examination side. It's not as politically blatant as the works of say Michael Moore (Gore even says it's a moral and not political issue), but there are a few quick jabs at the current administration and its stance on the subject matter.

And without any sort of rebuttal (Gore easily dismisses the critics in a quick bit about sampling scientists -- albeit only 10% without word of how they were chosen -- and finding all in agreement with him), it's a bit difficult to buy everything he states and demonstrates without some nagging doubts of skepticism. Again, I'm with him on the message, but his doubters will probably have a field day with the one-sided approach.

Notwithstanding that rather important issue for this sort of film, director Davis Guggenheim otherwise does a decent job of keeping the presentation constantly moving forward. Gore's passion and knowledge of the subject certainly help, and unless one completely pooh-poohs the notion, it's interesting, eye-opening and even rather disturbing stuff.

Using before and after photos (that really could have used identifying dates for full and effective comparative disclosure) and especially graphs showing humankind's influence on the environment figuratively and literally going off the charts, the film offers dire consequences of what could happen should such trends run unabated.

There's no denying there are more people on Earth than ever before and that the population is exponentially increasing, thus offering the potential of even further environmental damage. Of course, some say that recent increases in land and sea temperatures, as well as storm activity are proof positive of that, while others say it's just part of the globe's cyclical nature. Only time will tell which side is correct, but the naysayers better hope (at least for their children and future descendants) that Gore and his followers are only blowing a bunch of hot air.

I don't believe they are but do think they're on to something important here. Of course, since the film is just a fancier version of Gore's long-running, personal presentation, it isn't surprising how things play out. But it would have been nice (not to mention smart in a counter-strike fashion) for the film to bring in outsiders to discuss the material and thus give a more balanced approach.

If anything, the compelling and sometimes eye-opening film should get people thinking about their impact on the world in which they live. And that's clearly a good thing. Viewed as a documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" rates as a 6.5 out of 10.

Reviewed May 23, 2006 / Posted June 2, 2006

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