Generally, I’m not a fan of pejorative diatribes masquerading as documentary journalism like Morgan Spurlock’s self-aggrandizing “Supersize Me” so I was sceptical but hopeful that “That Sugar Film” would be more focussed on revealing an unexpected truth rather than triumphantly ‘proving’ the bleeding obvious.
I wasn’t disappointed. Australian Actor Damon Gameau (here also writer and director) is an appealing host and guide as he takes on the great bête blanc of western diets: sugar. He’s aided in his quest by cameo appearances by Stephen Fry and none other than Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman but its Gameau who shoulders the burden of showing the effect sugar can have on the body.
Unlike Spurlock’s ludicrous all-McDonald’s-all-the-time diet, Gameau seeks to prove his point not by obviously eating unhealthily but instead to eat a diet comprised only of those foods considered ‘healthy’ and ‘low fat’ in current nutritional orthodoxy. He still avoids obvious sources of sugar such as soft drinks, chocolates and sweets and maintains the same level of exercise and activity as he usually does.
Of course, low fat often means high sugar and the results are quite eye opening as the extent to which sugar and the sweetness ‘bliss point’ have infiltrated our every foodstuff is laid bare. The insidious mantra of ‘moderation’ peddled by the food manufacturers as a universal get-out clause starts to ring hollow once the physiological and psychological effects of sugar become apparent. There’s a sequence looking at Mountain Dew which, if you have any fear of dentists, will send you fleeing from the room.
It presents its hypotheses and findings in a good-natured and light-hearted fashion (although it jeopardises a lot of the goodwill with a kind of tongue-in-cheek/ kind of serious song and dance number at the end that feels more like a lost deleted scene from “Flight Of The Conchords” than a credible coda to a documentary) and it should definitely give you pause to think about the kind of things you and your family are eating. As education, this is merely a primer to get you started on your own research and further reading. As infotainment, it’s pretty sweet.