Combustible Celluloid Review - Plastic Earth (2023), Janice Overbeck, Jack Winch, Janice Overbeck, Jack Winch, Rob Riggle, Janice Overbeck, Clay Pearson, Cole Gibbs, Dr. Ramani Narayan
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Rob Riggle, Janice Overbeck, Clay Pearson, Cole Gibbs, Dr. Ramani Narayan
Written by: Janice Overbeck, Jack Winch
Directed by: Janice Overbeck, Jack Winch
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 100
Date: 02/07/2023

Plastic Earth (2023)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Plastic' Plan

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Overly busy and sometimes irritating, the documentary Plastic Earth undeniably provides plenty of fresh information on this pressing plastics problem; the filmmakers have certainly done their legwork.

To start, mother of four Janice Overbeck becomes concerned with the problem of plastic on our planet, and sets out to make a documentary about it. We learn about fossil-based plastics that are made for a single use and then generally wind up in the oceans, as well as literally everywhere else, i.e. our food, our clothing, the air, etc. Additionally, these materials can't be broken down without emitting toxic gasses, which can cause people to become terribly ill.

But she also discovers many companies and organizations that are dedicated to solving the problem, whether it be using safe, recyclable PHA plastic, starting initiatives and programs for cleaning up, or finding new ways to break down and recycle complex materials that were previously thought impossible.

Narrated by comic actor Rob Riggle (The Other Guys, 21 Jump Street), who appears on camera and gets serious for a moment, Plastic Earth does try a little too hard. The many segments are fast and short, as if produced for a flashy children's educational video, and frequently leave us with questions. Perhaps worse is the endless parade of stock images and the endlessly twittering and chirping musical score (and, heaven help us, songs), which all sounds like royalty-free stuff downloaded from the web.

Nonetheless, the filmmakers have clearly journeyed the world and found a wide variety of good, smart people that have come up with amazing solutions, big and small, ranging from a waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen that doubles as a sports park, to a method of removing plastic from waterways using bubbles. Plastic Earth does not lets us off the hook, however; this is a problem that still needs action, and each and every one of us can — and should — help.

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