Tom Shadyac’s filmic investigation into the root of all the world’s problems functions more powerfully as a larger message on morale than it does as a quality aesthetic film. Although the choppy editing, blurred stock footage, and tasteless 90’s score may impair the overall caliber of the documentary, I still left the theatre feeling deeply moved. This is not a film for rationalists, like Roger Ebert. In order to benefit from the film the way Shadyac intends us to, we must loosen our shirt collars, put our feet up, and maybe even smoke a doobie beforehand. Don’t question. Don’t critique. Just indulge and listen.
Sure, the film attempts to debunk traditionalist thinking by providing scientific examples of how we measure the human “energy field.” Bear with it. At one point, Shadyac sits before a peatry dish of yogurt hooked up to a gauss meter, which measures the strength of the surrounding electromagnetic fields. When Shadyac is asked about a stressful topic, such as his agent, the needle on the meter spikes.
Who knows if this is a legit scenario. But the fact of the matter is, who cares? This is clearly not Shadyac’s focus. We are interested because we live in a time characterized by unfathomable and radical change. Some argue that the rise of technology is pulling us apart, isolating us into smaller, more contained spaces. Shadyac seems to be more optimistic. We as humans, he argues, have been engineered for one purpose only: to co-exist.
In the words of filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, with a similar documentary showing at the Maui Film Festival in June,
“For centuries we’ve been declaring our independence, and perhaps it’s finally time to declare our inter-dependence.”
I can dig it.