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Autism: Made in the U.S.A.

Although well-made and periodically persuasive, doc is nonetheless disconcerting, since its central thesis is likely dangerously wrong.

With: Lawrence Palevsky, Stan Kurtz, Cindy Schneider, Gary Null, Beth Clay.

Controversial alternative health guru Gary Null’s “Autism: Made in the U.S.A.,” although well-made and periodically persuasive, is nonetheless disconcerting, since its central thesis is likely completely and dangerously wrong. Examining the theory that vaccines are to blame for the rise in autism, the docu raises a number of reasonable points — just enough so that its more outrageous conclusions slip by nearly unnoticed.

Starting with genuinely heartbreaking portraits of families affected by autism, the film segues into a discussion of the role that mercury-tainted vaccines may have played in propagating the disease, as well as the possible cover-up of their role by unscrupulous public health officials and pharmaceutical companies. It’s not hard to believe the cover-up theory, and this conveniently allows directors Null and Manette Loudon to disregard studies that disprove it. Moreover, while the pic holds governmental bodies to strict scientific standards, it offers only anecdotal evidence (or none at all) when endorsing various homeopathic treatments for autism.

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Autism: Made in the U.S.A.

Production: A Gary Null and Associates production. Produced by Null, Manette Loudon. Executive producer, Null. Directed by Gary Null, Manette Loudon.

Crew: Camera, Robert Kehoe; editor, Julie Chabot; music, Hal Cragin. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, May 10, 2009. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: With: Lawrence Palevsky, Stan Kurtz, Cindy Schneider, Gary Null, Beth Clay.

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