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The Independent Critic

Al Gore, Jr.
Davis Guggenheim
Al Gore, Jr.
Rated PG
100 Mins.
Paramount Vantage
 "An Inconvenient Truth" 
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Al Gore is right.

The scientific community, at least as documented by research, wholeheartedly supports the basic concepts, ideas, and suggestions set forth by Gore in his critical darling of a documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

The documentary, directed by Davis Guggenheim, is based upon Gore's PowerPoint presentation on global warming that has been years in the making and seen by audiences worldwide. His research, presented here in a manner that is clear, concise and easily accessible to the most simple of human intellects, is nothing we haven't heard before. Yet, in "An Inconvenient Truth" it may very well be presented for the first time in a way that even the most resistant human being will have a hard time denying that: 1) Global warming is an issue, 2) If we don't do something about it soon it may be too late, and 3) There ARE, in fact, things we can do to reverse the seeming path towards destruction we are on.

Despite its claims of being a non-partisan documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" does, at times, dip into partisan waters. For example, whenever Gore is presenting anti-global warming voices they always seem to be major Republicans. Likewise, on at least two occasions "An Inconvenient Truth" crosses the line into self-indulgence as Gore reflects on his loss to Bush and, as a direct tie-in, the impact this loss has had on the economy. These moments are portrayed with a sort of dark, shadowy lighting that would make Clint Eastwood mighty proud. It's not necessarily that Gore doesn't have a valid point, but it's, well, a bit tacky for him to make the point himself.

Much has been made of the spirit and fervor with which Gore speaks in "An Inconvenient Truth." Contemplating this fact only serves as a reminder of how Gore lost to Bush (well, besides that Florida issue). Even at his most exciting, Gore tends to project himself as more intellectual than insightful, more interested in lecture than dialogue.

At one point near the end of "An Inconvenient Truth," Gore wonders aloud how he can possibly get his message across to more people, including those who've seemingly been resistant to hearing this truth.

The answer may very well lie in his presentation of the material itself. As a college lecture, "An Inconvenient Truth" is captivating, educating, and informative. As a tool to reach a mass audience, "An Inconvenient Truth" becomes monotonous, repetitive and self-indulgent. Every time Gore reaches a point of appearing solely as an impassioned activist, he tells a story, gives an example or makes another statement reminding us that he is, in fact, a politician and this is just the latest thing for which he's asking the American public to vote.

When Gore shares that the near-death of his son at 6-years-old caused him to intensify his efforts on global warming, I couldn't help but sit there thing "Hmmm. If MY son nearly died I could see myself becoming involved in children's issues, family issues, or maybe even safety issues. But, global warming? Gore's contention was a pretty magnificent and remarkably unconvincing stretch of melodrama.

The film works best, oddly enough, when it is Gore alone on-stage with his pie charts, images, and occasionally goofy animation. Gore presents global warming in, perhaps for the first time, a way that can be understood by the general public and he clearly lays out the causes, consequences and potential actions concerning global warming. Gore's intelligence shines through, and his passion for the subject is obvious and quite contagious.

Unlike other critics, many of whom seem to be bowing down at the feet of Gore and director Guggenheim, I feel a responsibility to balance my overall agreement and passion for Gore's message with an awareness that Gore's film is basically preaching to the choir and, largely due to political bias and the film's lack of rhythm or variation, "An Inconvenient Truth" is unlikely to successfully reach a mass audience and, most certainly, is slanted enough so as not to have a bipartisan appeal.

"An Inconvenient Truth", essentially a marvelous college lecture, ends up feeling like somewhat of a missed opportunity as a full-length documentary for Gore in his admirable efforts to finally sway a wishy-washy American public on the absolute necessity of doing something now about global warming before we pass that point of no return.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
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