Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy is a new film from scientist turned filmmaker Randy Olsen (“Rediagnosing the Oceans”, “Flock of Dodos”) and rather than being a film about global warming, it is a film about the making of a film about global warming. Sizzle is also a self described “novel blend of three genres – mockumentary, documentary and reality.” Olsen, as well as directing, is the main character who sets out to emulate Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth but this time featuring the actual scientists.
The challenge of combining three genres is avoiding failure three times. The film needs to stand up when examined from very different angles. While overall I still found it worth watching, viewed from these three different angles Sizzle mostly fizzles.
As a scripted comedy I thought the dialogue was rather contrived and the acting that delivered it was weak. The flakey gay couple Olsen finds as his only financial backers are not witty or fresh enough to carry the cliche that they are, nor do they offer anything original. As for “straightman” Olsen, he was just not very convincing in his annoyed and/or angry outbursts. As a documentary, the film was frustratingly thin on facts and information. Where were the easy rebuttals of Olsen’s “sceptic” camera man’s frequent and amusingly inappropriate interjections during the interviews with the scientists? This was the time to show the audience just how fallacious and weak all of those standard talking points are, straight from the scientist’s mouths. And finally as a reality show, it lacked spontaneity, it was too scripted.
But that said, combining three genres also allows you to add up the good aspects you acheive from each. The comedic premise was funny enough to grab the viewers interest and there were enough chuckles throughout to keep it. I also found it very interesting and revealing to see “in person” the selection of sceptics Olsen featured. (He had on George Chilingar, Bill Gray, Pat Michaels, S Fred Singer and Marc Morano). The working scientists were compelling in their clarity and understated urgency and I think a lay audience would find what they had to say accessible. The “reality” aspect of the film did allow for quite a few entertaining and unpredictable situations.
I think the most compelling acheivement of the film was putting a very human face on the man-made aspects of Hurricane Katrina, an otherwise natural disaster. That calamity is an ominous analogy to the kind of events humanity faces with continued climate disruption.
All in all, I do recommend this film and enjoyed watching it, but given its weaknesses I would not show it to anyone you might be hoping to bring over to the reality side of the global warming debate.