That Sugar Film: Film Review
Cast: Damon Gameau, Stephen Fry, Jessica Marais, Brenton Thwaites, Isabel Lucas
Director: Damon Gameau
This documentary, screening at the New Zealand International Film Festival's annual Autumn Events gala weekend is looking to capitalise on the polemic themes launched years back by Morgan Spurlock.
This time, it's Aussie director Gameau, a kind of Johnny Barker / Russell Brand lookalike, who decides that having foregone sugar for years, he will now eat 40 teaspoons of the white stuff a day as an experiment to see what effect it will have on him.
With a new born on the way, Gameau's keen to show it's sugar not anything else that's the food demon, so complicit in the global boom of obesity and sugars within so-called low fat food and their healthy ilk. So, Gameau decides to eat only the so-called healthy food to see what effect that will have on him as he negotiates his 60 days' quest.
That Sugar Film is no Supersize Me.
Gameau is an eminently watchable type with his outlook driving the high paced film along, but he seems a little awash with what exactly he wants to say with this doco - and more importantly, how he wants to say it.
A lack of science proving his facts and experimental conjecture derail the movie, which revels in some didactic interludes from the likes of Stephen Fry but goes for easy laughs - such as his sucking down an energy drink while attending pre-natal classes with his girlfriend - rather than using the research and science to validate his opinions.
There are moments which land though - a 17-year-old American youth called Larry whose addiction to soft drink Mountain Dew has left him with rotten teeth undergoes a Marathon Man style dentist visit that will have some squirming and others shouting at his mother who claims never wanting her son to be hurt but never stopped him drinking it; and an examination of an Aborigine community (and its scheme Mai Wiru) that's been ravaged by their addiction to Coca-Cola shock.
But there's nothing in this film that personal advocacy and common sense couldn't prevail over (maybe, perhaps that is the point, there's a lack of personal responsibility in this day and age); there's certainly no real smoking gun evident other than a series of conjecture and some candy coated hypothesis. It's all wrapped up in some pretty sweet visual stylings; talking heads emerge from food containers and espouse arguments and some graphics reek of their ADD stylings to appeal to the young.
As a beginner for debate, That Sugar Film is a reasonable place to start; there's no denying the consumption of sugar affects Gameau's moods, waistline and outlook, but a lack of a real robust argument - or any comments from any of the companies peddling low fat wares - means this isn't as sweet as perhaps it could be.