Time to Choose

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Time to Choose Movie Poster Image
Climate-change doc is visually beautiful but oversimplified.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 97 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The world is in trouble unless we act now to fight climate change. But -- per the film -- the good news is that with a concerted effort, we can.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The film calls out those who put personal profit/the bottom line ahead of the planet's needs and celebrates the activists and environmentalists who are fighting to make a difference.


Many scenes show the sobering impact of industrial pollution upon nature. A few also show the unfortunate workers who labor in unsafe conditions, including one sequence that features a coal miner, filmed minutes before a cave-in claimed his life.


Many well-known companies and environmental groups are named, including oil companies, Greenpeace, and major solar installers and wind-turbine suppliers. Many consumer brands/companies are shown as examples of products that use palm oil, one of the leading contributors to deforestation -- but it's hardly in a promotional context.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Time to Choose is a well-intentioned documentary narrated by Oscar Isaac that examines the causes of global warming -- mainly fossil fuels and deforestation -- and then showcases advances in clean energy that could help the planet. Director Charles Ferguson talks to many of the people leading the worldwide effort to battle climate change ... and calls out those who've been identified as villains by those fighting global warming. There are no big content-based red flags for parents (although one scene does show a coal miner minutes before a cave-in claimed his life), and the film will likely help young people understand the issue. It will probably also be popular with teachers who want to help their students grasp the basic concepts surrounding global warming.

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What's the story?

Director Charles Ferguson, who explained the 2008 financial crisis so well in Inside Job and tackled the war in Iraq with No End in Sight, turns his attention to climate change in TIME TO CHOOSE. This visually stunning film, narrated by Oscar Isaac, explains how fossil fuels and deforestation are heating the planet and how rapid improvements in clean energy may be able to curb their impact before it's too late.

Is it any good?

This documentary juxtaposes beautiful images of our planet with experts discussing the calamitous environmental challenges threatening that very beauty; it's both an affecting and effective approach. For this alone, Time to Choose is worth a watch. But while high schoolers and younger will likely find it a good, basic primer on climate change, anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the issues may find the film frustratingly lean, the advice oversimplified. That said, its visual impact nearly makes up for its shortcomings. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the debate surrounding global warming. Why do you think some people believe it's a hoax, despite scientific evidence that human activity is heating up the planet?

  • Are documentaries obliged to be objective? How can the same facts look different when presented from different points of view?

  • Why do you think so many executives chose not to appear in Time to Choose? Do you think documentaries like this one will actually make people change their minds? What can individuals do to stop global warming?

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