A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that That Sugar Film is a quirky, energetic documentary that follows Australian TV star Damon Gameau through a 60-day lifestyle experiment that reveals potentially shocking truths about foods often perceived as "healthy" by society. The film's eccentric style/tone and Gameau's lighthearted mannerisms will keep tweens and older engaged, while its informative facts about history, biology, and general health and wellness will help viewers learn a ton about refined sugar. Other than a few contextual references to sex and drugs (cocaine), one gory yet impactful dental-surgery scene, and occasional shots of Gameau in just his underwear (as well as a scene featuring a bikini-clad woman pouring soda all over herself), parents will find this movie to be a compelling, eye-opening journey for viewers of all ages. Just be prepared for the urge to clean out your pantry after the credits roll.
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What's the story?
THAT SUGAR FILM follows Australian writer/producer Damon Gameau through a 60-day experiment to chronicle the effects of a high-sugar diet on his healthy body. Under the close watch of a team of doctors and a nutritionist, Gameau begins eating foods that are usually perceived as "healthy" by the general public, abstaining from any overtly sugary soft drinks or candies. As the experiment progresses, Gameau's health, energy levels, and daily mood decline, while his weight and waistline increase. Anecdotes from an aboriginal Australian community that was introduced to the Western diet offer insight into how problematic it is. And by the end of the experiment, Gameau notes that his body has adapted to the new diet -- and its accompanying mood swings and headaches. All of which makes him more than happy to return to his previous, sugar-free ways.
Is it any good?
In terms of documentaries about the food industry, That Sugar Film is one of a kind. Its fun, inviting presentation of facts and statistics makes its bitter truths very digestible; conversations surrounding health and wellness have centered on the role of processed sugar in the food industry for a while now, but rarely have they gone as in-depth or as hands-on as we see here.
Padded with historical and biological lessons, silly graphic effects, and a musical performance at the end, this documentary is equal parts educational, entertaining, and thought provoking. It engages you with its goofy, eccentric tone and style, which makes you much more receptive to its compelling messages about the effects of processed sugar -- and reasonable alternatives. Everyone who watches will gain a new perspective on their own consumption habits and the food industry at large.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the situation That Sugar Film addresses. What are the negative repercussions of consuming too much sugar? What would the benefit be of reducing or eradicating our own intake?
What role might class issues play in the way people are able -- or unable -- to say no to processed sugar? How can society as a whole work to improve the quality of food available to everyone?
What makes the film persuasive? Are documentaries obliged to be objective? Why or why not?
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