That Sugar Film mixes sweet fun with bitter facts (IDFA Review)
Forget fat, sugar is the biggest enemy of our overeating and overweight nation. At least, that's if we take Damon Gameau's word for it, in his new documentary 'That Sugar Film,' where he goes on a high-sugar diet for two months.
#IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary
Having been on 'sugar-free' diet for over 3 years, Australian actor Damon Gameau decided to explore the effects of sugar on the average healthy body. Not by eating lots of candy or donuts. No, by eating a normal dosage of (low fat) yoghurt, cereals and other 'healthy' foods.
The comparison with Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me (2004) is immediately apparent. Gameau regularly brings his lovely actress wife Zoe Tuckwell-Smith into the picture. And one of the reasons he gives for making the film, is the pregnancy of his wife, to see what evil sugar-filled world he's bringing this kid into..
What follows is a slickly produced mix of facts, observations and some fun. Above all, Gameau doesn't seem to want to make a boring and serious film about something we already know. Because let's be honest, we all know sugar is bad for us, right? Yes, mom, I heard you!
With some help of Stephen Fry and Hugh Jackman, the film starts with a couple of entertaining lessons about sugar. Then Gameau starts his experiment, where his vitals are being checked by a doctor he calls Check Upz. And when explaining what happens to our body, he naturally goes into the body itself to show it. And lastly, for some odd reason, he likes to jump around in his boxers everywhere he goes. We'll just put that into the entertainment section as well.
The serious moments come when Gameau travels to the US. Visiting Kentucky, where some people live on the 'sugar drink' Mountain Dew, we follow a 17 year-old boy during his painful dental treatment. A horrifying scene, where the boy is unable to get anesthesia because his teeth are too rotten. Another time, Gameau takes on a scientist who claims there's nothing wrong with sugar, while later confirming his research is sponsored by a sugar manufacturer.
Though the most striking fact of the film is actually how much sugar the average Western person takes in a day. No less than 40 teaspoons, according to the filmmaker, displayed by eating the actual teaspoons of sugar, instead of the yoghurt and cereal that would normally contain the sugar. And those should be the 'healthy' foods.. When showing a supermarket without sugar flavored products, the shelves suddenly become shockingly empty.
That Sugar Film pushes a little hard on the charm and entertainment side — an over the top rap song where Gameau dresses up as 'Sugar Man' I reckon must be in there for a school tour he is planning after the film's release. And it's a bit dramatic about how bad sugar actually is. I mean, a bit of sugar never hurt anyone, right? But it's still a fun and informative reminder about what we eat and why we're eating it.