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Review: ‘That Sugar Film’ tracks dangers of sweetness

Tom Long
The Detroit News

While “That Sugar Film” is filled with powerful and what should be downright alarming information, it also suffers from distracting bouts of cinematic candy coating.

That may make it go down easier with a younger crowd, but most adults will find themselves wishing the film would get on about its business.

That business is a more specific variation on Morgan Spurlock’s hit documentary “Super Size Me,” in which Spurlock famously made himself sick by eating only food from McDonald’s. This time around Australian actor/filmmaker Damon Gameau makes himself sick by eating sugar.

Here’s the catch, though: Gameau doesn’t load up on candy and confections. Instead he ingests the equivalent of 40 teaspoons of sugar a day by eating foods that most people think are healthy — yogurt, power bars, assorted sauces, cereals, etc. He still gains weight, experiences mood swings and his bloodwork goes downhill.

The history is this: Back in the ’50s and ’60s, with heart disease on the rise, the medical community settled on fat as the culprit. So food manufacturers started churning out “healthy” low fat foods. To make those now-bland foods taste better, they added sugar, something which humans had traditionally had little access to.

Welcome to the current plague of Type II diabetes and obesity. Gameau and a surplus of talking head experts argue persuasively that sugar calories are worse than other calories, that sugar is, in fact, addictive and can actually effect our ability to think.

He starts out in Australia and then brings his sugar-eating self to the USA, where he meets colorful people such as a 17-year-old boy whose teeth are all rotted from drinking soda. Gameau brings in unrelated guest celebrities — Hugh Jackman! — and employs far too many gimmicky graphics along the way before ending with an absolutely awful music video.

But the power of his message is undeniable: Friends don’t give friends candy bars and sugar has an ugly downside. How sweet it isn’t.

tlong@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/toomuchTomLong

‘That Sugar Film’

GRADE: C+

Not rated

Running time: 90 minutes