Flavorlessly directed by Davis Guggenheim (2000's "Gossip
"), "An Inconvenient Truth" is a talking-head documentary that puts to film the environmental multimedia presentation that former Vice President Al Gore tours around the world giving. The urgent topic is global warming, and the dire place we as living creatures are currently at as the population rises, pollution increases, temperatures go up, the changing air stream patterns lead to atypical weather-related disasters, and the glaciers melt at an alarming rate. The message Al Gore wants to send out to the public at large is a sincere and valid one, but that doesn't actually make "An Inconvenient Truth" a good motion picture.
As a documentary, the film isn't creatively or visually dynamic, the material is poorly conceived and edited, and the case that Al Gore makes to random audiences (and to each viewer) is one-part earnest, one-part preachy and one-part filled with flimsy so-called factual data. Save for some photo comparisons of snowy and icy settings that have almost completely melted over the last few decades, Gore's argument isn't satisfactorily backed up. Instead of proving his point with unmistakable facts, he basically resorts to telling rather than showing what people should believe. He also gets lost in a parade of computer animations and graphs that offer up a lot of numbers about temperature and emissions levels, as well as projected areas where increased sea levels might flood in the years to come, but that don't hold the same weight as if he was personally going out into the world and discovering these things on his own.
For the most part, Al Gore comes off as a personable and energetic guide to a subject he feels passionately about. Unfortunately, he also is made to look like something of a hypocrite. His narration near the movie's beginning about how environmental issues have practically nothing to do with politics is quickly disregarded as the viewer is treated to disjointed segments centering on Gore's political past and familial ties. These scenes, interspersed clumsily throughout, are self-serving and have no place in an environmentally-centered project. They also reveal an off-putting hidden agenda that has just as much to do with politics as it does with saving the earth's future.
Will "An Inconvenient Truth" have enough of an impact to reverse the threat of global warming? Call me a cynic, but I don't think so. Any one person can do their part to conserve energy and minimalize pollution, but we as an entire human race probably won't take the drastic steps necessary to substantially change the earth's course until it is too late. The film provides some stirring predictions of where we are headed, but doesn't hold the power to scare as it should in order to make a permanent mark on one's conscience. It also has no business being a theatrical release; with its straightforward, barebones style and valiant tree-hugging sermons, this is one movie that would have worked better premiering on the small screen as an Earth Day special event. "An Inconvenient Truth" has its heart in the right placethat is, when its ulterior political motives aren't vying for screen timebut overall the film stands as a one-track doomsday warning with too little substance to achieve its intended effect.