THAT SUGAR FILM
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten for Shockya. Databased on Rotten Tomatoes.
Director: Damon Gameau
Cast: Damon Gameau, Stephen Fry, Jessica Marais, Brenton Thwaites, Isabel Lucas
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 6/27/15
Opens: July 31, 2015
“The Sugar Film” is not the cat’s meow of scientific proof that sugar is not only bad for you but that it has devastated individuals and communities alike. While a documentary about a white additive that is stuffed into maybe eighty percent of processed food could sound as dull as a trip to a public school lunchroom, “That Sugar Film” is enormously entertaining thanks to the leading presence of Australia’s Damon Gameau who both directed and stars in the most fun doc about nutrition that has hit the big screen since Morgan Spurlock ruined his health after spending hours of thirty days eating exclusively in Mickey D’s.
Gameau, a good-looking, hip, even charismatic personality who alternates his time interviewing scientists with scenes with his pregnant girlfriend, is aided by cutting edge animation, which includes characters who appear in miniature on egg cartons, cans and bottles, lecturing us each with a wink and a nod about why we should never have hummed along with the theme song of the eighties, which was “eat fat free and never mind the sugar.” That discredited view has been taken to the opposite extreme with the paleo diet, introduced by Dr. Atkins, which advocates cutting carbs and never minding the fat. By doing that you will feel full, and even meat does not have the addictive power of sugar and fructose. At the film’s conclusion, in fact, Gameau has reversed the ill effects of the forty teaspoons of sugar that he downed on each of sixty days, his waist losing the four inches he gained, his liver restored to normal, and his borderline diabetes now history.
Among the most visceral scenes is one involving a seventeen-year-old Kentuckian who drank maybe nine cans daily Mountain Dew and at his tender age has already lost twenty-six teeth. His dentist pulls out the rot to prepare his mouth for full dentures, but because of the lad’s oral infections, the anesthetic has virtually no effect. Result? He still craves and drinks Mountain Dew.
Gameau visits an aboriginal community that used to ingest zero sugar and never bought food from a market. Now seduced by the sweet drug, they patronize the local superette and have developed a shocking range of disease from their love of Coca Cola.
This is a fast-paced film ideal for school health ed classes but don’t let that fact turn you off. It is suitable for all ages, even for folks who have no idea what the word “nutrition” signifies and who will likely not change their behavior after a viewing. It’s ninety-seven minutes of fun and might just distract you for that period of time from reaching for a fourth can of Coke to go with your tortilla chips.
Unrated. 97 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B+
Acting – A-
Technical – A-
Overall – A-