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An Inconvenient Truth
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that An Inconvenient Truth introduces complicated scientific, political, and social issues (most prominently, the arguments surrounding global warming and environmental pollution), which will likely go over the heads of the youngest kids. While Al Gore explains his points with colorful graphics (cartoons, graphs, "nature" footage), the statistics and argument strategies may be boring for younger viewers, too. The movie includes images of the aftermath of Katrina, as well as references to other disasters (a 2003 European heat wave that left 35,000 dead). Animated sequences show mild violence (ozone-attacking sunbeams, a frog almost boiling, a weary polar bear unable to find solid ice on which to rest). It also includes sections on the death of Gore's sister from lung cancer (photos of her as he talks about missing her and the damage done by cigarette smoking) and on Gore's young son's near death in a car accident (viewers see no specifics, mostly haunting, empty hospital corridors and Gore looking sad).
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What's the story?
Plainspoken and passionate, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH tracks Al Gore's efforts to convince people that global warming is an immediate, dire, and still fixable problem. Well-paced and galvanizing, the movie suggests he's finally found his calling, beyond political backrooms and official chambers, in the bright light of a cause that moves him. Gore is alternately grave, impressive, and even funny as he makes clear the stakes he sees in changing human consuming habits. After loing a presidential contest, Gore is more determined than ever to "get [his] message across."He's packaged that message into a slide show that, he says, he's performed more than 1000 times over the years. The movie argues that global warming is a man-made phenomenon, backing that claim with charts and graphs and statistics, as well as before and after shots of glaciers, once snowy mountains, and once full lakes. Whatever you believe about the causes of global warming, the film insists that you acknowledge its existence.
Is it any good?
The movie occasionally leans too hard on sentimental devices, as when Gore looks repeatedly out windows while his voiceover narrates his concerns over a receding natural world. A more awkward section has Gore explaining his decision to turn his energies to the environment, because, he says, his young son was nearly killed in a car accident; while the trauma and effects are surely moving, the black and white imagery and sad music feel more exploitative than explanatory.
Still, An Inconvenient Truth makes you think, especially about how you might have effects not only on your local environment -- recycling, reducing oil and electric consumption -- but also how you might become involved in more expansive projects, and consider yourself part of a broader, even worldwide community. That Al Gore provokes such thinking with what amounts to a lecture is no small feat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the debate over global warming, and whether it results from human excesses or inevitable natural changes. They might discuss An Inconvenient Truth's presentation of conflicts between economic and environmental needs, the U.S. role in pollution and global warming, and accusations by some politicians (shown briefly in the film) that global warming is a hoax.
How has the discussion and debate surrounding global warming changed since this documentary was first released?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.