The film follows the quest of Randy Olson - Dr. Randy Olson - to make the film (yes, it's meta from the get-go). At first, it's a little confusing when the documentary style blends into obvious set-up jokes (i.e., we see shots of something happening that simply would not be possible with only one camera), but the blending effect of actually grew on me as the film progressed.
I'll get into some details - and you can watch the trailer - after the break.
Olson gets his big break when a "fabulously flaky couple" (hint: remember where the movie is premiering) offers to help fund the movie. Their help comes with strings attached, though, including a camera man who can't keep his mouth shut and, well, their flaky commitment to the project. Whatever their faults as characters, these two are the best actors in the movie and when one of them gets mad and flops down in the beach sand, it's about the funnies slapstick fall I've ever seen (it's included in the trailer). Mad props to anyone who manages to fall and let their head hit the sand like that. Awesome.
The pair also has their own ideas on who should be the host of the film, because we just need a celebrity, right? They suggest Tom Cruise (scientist? No, but he's a Scientologist, and that's pretty close) and Kate Winslett because she's British. Why shouldn't Olson be the host of his own film? Well, he's not pretty enough or, as one of the couple says, "You're no Michael Moore." Ouch.
As for the global warming angle? Well, Olson does a fine job of letting scientists who have the facts support their view that global warming is real and we're causing it and we can do something about it have their say. In fact, the idea for the movie came when Olson watched An Inconvenient Truth and wondered, "Where are all the scientists?" Don't worry, because Olson also give the skeptics a more than fair amount of screen time, and it's this combination that gets to what wants to be the heart of the movie - the loud cameraman's conversion. Hint: a Prius is involved.
Weak spots in the film include some of the acting (which, to be fair, is way better than I could ever do). The problem with the mish-mash of styles is that when we go from somewhat realistic reality TV style to the pre-planned (or pre-planned seeming) joke segments, the actors' acting can get in the way. Sorry, Muffy Moose, I just didn't buy you as the hip-hop dancer. This, as they say, disrupts the suspension of disbeleif, but it's not too hard to overlook in a movie with as much heart as Sizzle has. The proof of this comes in the final reel, where Sizzle spends some time in New Orleans. Doesn't much matter why or how global warming is, the effects are real and we need to figure out a way to mitigate them.
Olson also directed "Flock of Dodos" in 2006. I haven't seen that film, but it seems to follow a similar idea: to get to the bottom of a scientific issue that has taken on a life of its own in the political sphere. One of my favorite parts of Sizzle is how Olson puts such faith in letting the scientific facts sway the viewer, and his belief that if he can just get some respected scientists in front of the camera, the story will tell itself. Turns out, it's not that easy, but it does make for some fun viewing. Required? No, but fun and Sizzle certainly won't polarize people the way An Inconvenient Truth did. if you need a movie to watch at home so you can get the global warming debate started, Sizzle is the way to go.