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Bill Nye: Science Guy
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bill Nye: Science Guy is a documentary about the star of the beloved 1990s kids' show Bill Nye the Science Guy and his attempts to "leave the world better than he found it" after the show has run its course. The movie isn't specifically aimed at kids, but there's very little iffy content. Aside from some self-reflection that could be a little bit boring for younger viewers, it should be fine -- and hopefully inspiring -- for older elementary school-aged viewers and up. Expect some tense conversations, debates, and arguments, as well as troubling images and discussions about global warming and the climate crisis; an exploding rocket; and violent images in a religious museum ("Cain murders Abel," etc.). There's a bit of social drinking by adults. Nye is portrayed as a realistically flawed human being, but he's still a positive role model for viewers of all ages.
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What's the story?
Bill Nye ended his much-loved kids' TV show Bill Nye the Science Guy in 1995 and has been working on what to do next. BILL NYE: SCIENCE GUY follows him as he talks to adoring fans, but a problem catches his eye: The facts of climate change are real, but many people in power deny them. Nye tries to debate people like meteorologist Joe Bastardi on Fox News, or, in the case of well-known Christian speaker Ken Ham (who says he believes Earth is only 6,000 years old"), in person. Despite the fact that Nye seems to win their debate, Ham opens a Noah's Ark museum dedicated to keeping kids from learning science. Nye also confesses some of his personal troubles, like the fact that his family carries the disease ataxia, which attacks muscle movement. But then his friend Neil deGrasse Tyson has an idea and appoints Nye CEO of the Planetary Society, where Nye begins working to realize the dream of his one-time mentor Carl Sagan: to launch a lightweight, inexpensive "solar sailor" into space.
Is it any good?
This documentary gets the best of both worlds, building a personal story of the likable, trustworthy Nye, as well as offering a serious, hopeful love letter to science itself. Though it's not specifically aimed at kids like his beloved Bill Nye the Science Guy TV show, David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg's Bill Nye: Science Guy doesn't have too much mature material. So if kids are old enough to grapple with the concept of climate change or a disease that can affect the motor skills of an entire family, then this movie could imbue them with both hope for the future and a love of science.
The movie does a terrific job of painting Nye as a normal guy, a man who loved being famous and influential for kids and who frequently wonders whether he'll "leave the world better than he found it," a lesson he was taught as a child. It also manages to be an effective documentary about climate change: It's realistic but not completely grim. Perhaps the most troubling part of the movie is the rhetoric of the featured climate change deniers (even Donald Trump is shown, briefly). But perhaps it's all a learning tool. Bottom line? This is a movie that has the power to unite Nye's fans once more behind the power of science.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to "leave the world better than you found it." How can you go about achieving this? How does Nye want to do that, according to Bill Nye: Science Guy?
Is Nye a positive role model for kids? What are his attributes? What are his failings?
In the debate, Nye says that if he were presented with facts, he would change his mind in an instant, whereas Ken Ham says he'd never change his beliefs. What is the significance of these two points of view?
After seeing this movie, does science seem more appealing or exciting than it did before? Have you seen any of the science-related YouTube channels featured in the movie?
Does Nye's fame make him seem more interesting or more troubled? Is seeking fame portrayed as a healthy goal?
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