Can a movie about global warming genuinely be called lighthearted? If so, Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand’s “Everything’s Cool” comes as close as one imagines possible, essaying yet more inconvenient truths about the potential future of our planet in the same buoyant, irreverent style the filmmakers brought to their last activist docu, “Blue Vinyl.” Given its arrival in Al Gore’s footsteps and the sudden glut of media attention focused on the subject, pic may face a certain climate-change fatigue on behalf of the ticket-buying public, but should receive plenty of exposure from fests and small-screen docu broadcasters.
Probably the biggest single factor working against “Everything’s Cool” is that its primary subject is the difficulty in raising Americans’ awareness about global warming, and yet the film arrives at a moment when awareness may be at an all-time high.
That said, Gold and Helfand paint a considerably livelier cinematic tableau than “An Inconvenient Truth” as they travel the country, interviewing a diverse cross-section of artists, scientists and average Joes who are devoting themselves in various ways to the betterment of the environment. In Sundance, where it premiered, the pic was of particular interest for including a section shot in Park City, Utah, and focusing on one Bish Neuhauser, a “snow groomer” at the Canyons ski resort who is trying to convert all of the facility’s transport vehicles to bio-diesel fuel.
Other colorful personalities abound, from global warming “poet laureate” Bill McKibben to the Weather Channel’s on-air climatologist Dr. Heidi Cullen and, most intriguingly, authors Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, whose essay “The Death of Environmentalism” levied harsh criticism on the traditional environmental movement and advocated a new progressivism. That sense of disorganization even among like-minded activists makes for one of the pic’s more compelling points and communicates a sense of why it has taken so long to bring the global warming debate to the average American’s dinner table.
Gold and Helfand have a lot on their minds, and they do a generally good job of whittling down an unwieldy subject into an energetic 100-minute package that, like “Blue Vinyl,” includes funky animated interludes courtesy of animators Jeremiah Dickey and Emily Hubley. Unashamedly partisan pic tends to drag and seem a tad dated only in those sections devoted to criticizing the government and “experts” retained by oil companies to refute climate-change science.
But “Everything’s Cool” can be downright euphoric in its sense of ordinary people doing their part for the planet, capped by the remarkable image of some 1,000 Inuit villagers (together with special guest stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Salma Hayek) arranging their bodies into a massive human art project that spells out the words “Arctic Warning” when seen from above.