'That Sugar Film': How much is too much?

Gameau-600
Director Damon Gameau (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Damon Gameau's new documentary That Sugar Film establishes two important, if obvious, facts:

1. Unhealthy amounts of sugar are bad for you.

2. The food industry is more concerned with making profit than ensuring you live a healthy life.

No, duh?

Smart, funny, and cleverly made, the Aussie writer-director's entry makes these points with great charm and wit through filmmaking that is fun to watch, if a little too cutesy for my tastes. One animated sequence about diabetes, showing how the liver struggles to process sugar, is just too precious for words.

Gameau's film adopts the experiential approach Morgan Spurlock took in Super Size Me. The filmmaker doesn't just tell us how excess sugar affects the human body, he shows us what happens to his own body, mind, and spirit when he consumes too much of the stuff.

So how much sugar is too much?

That's the scary part. Gameau's film shows that the average intake of sugar for Australians (40 teaspoons a day) already is dangerously high.

So, for 60 days, Gameau does just that.

At the end, he comes out looking chubbier than his pregnant girlfriend, and he has no energy.

There's something uniquely frightening about That Sugar Film.

While Super Size Me had Spurlock stuff himself with fast food - which everyone knows is bad for you - Garneau's experiment has him eat food that is supposed to be good for you. His high-sugar diet is composed entirely of stuff marketed by food companies as health foods: cereals, health bars, low-fat yogurt, juices.

In addition to the usual experts, the film sweetens its message with goofy little skits featuring a handful of celebs including Hugh Jackman, Isabel Lucas, Jessica Marais, and Stephen Fry.

The intention is clear: Garneau wants to make his points as persuasive and accessible as possible.

Yet, the truths That Sugar Film contains were already obvious decades ago. It's sad that we need reminding.


tirdad@phillynews.com

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That Sugar Film

Directed by Damon Gameau. With Damon Gameau, Stephen Fry, Jessica Marais, Brenton Thwaites, Isabel Lucas. Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Running time: 1 hours, 42 minutes.

Parent's guide: Unrated ().