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Parents' Guide to

The Race to Save the World

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Earnest profiles of intense environmental activists.

Movie NR 2021 102 minutes
The Race to Save the World Poster Image

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These interesting, if not revelatory, profiles of various climate change activists are both inspiring and cautionary in terms of showing how to balance activism with family and personal life. Director Joe Gantz could have (and perhaps should have) focused on fewer of the activists, digging deeper into their backstories -- what led them to be such committed environmentalists, how their arrests (in a few cases) impacted their loved ones and their day-to-day jobs, etc. Because it includes many activists, The Race to Save the World feels more like a survey than a seminar. Gantz, to his credit, doesn't idolize the folks he profiles. Viewers will no doubt respect the work they do and the risks they take, but the filmmaker doesn't shy away from depicting their struggles to balance eco-activism with parenting, school, and work.

Young Aji is one of the most compelling people in the film, considering his age, commitment, and persuasive speech-making skills. Bill is a kind and loving father who waxes poetic about his kayaktivists' direct actions protesting an oil rig. Miriam, the oldest activist featured, is deserving of more screen time. Walking across the country is no simple feat for anyone, much less a septuagenarian with joint issues. It's hard not to root for her. Abby, however, is an odd choice for the film. She can seem off-putting and entitled, while others come across as more righteous and inspiring. During her court case, she gives such inexplicably awful, cringeworthy testimony that she fights with her own attorney. It's a wonder she was kept in the finished film. Michael Foster, who also could have easily been a solo documentary subject, is the opposite. His final statement is what the documentary boils down to: These are people who are willing to give up their personal freedom for the sake of the Earth's environmental survival, no matter the individual cost.

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