Reviewers in the US are just as sweet on Damon Gameau’s That Sugar Film as their Australian counterparts.
Samuel Goldwyn Films launched the Madman-produced documentary on 10 screens and on-demand last Friday.
US critics favourably compared the doc to Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me and last year’s sugar-themed expose Fed Up from executive producers Katie Couric and Laurie David (An Inconvenient Truth) and director Stephanie Soechtig.
The New York Times’ Daniel M. Gold declared, “Like Super Size Me, Mr. Gameau keeps a team of doctors and nutritionists handy, and the health effects are alarming. Within three weeks, he starts to develop fatty liver disease, and by the end incurs early Type 2 diabetes and increased heart disease risks.
“Mr. Gameau’s breezy blend of computer imagery, musical numbers, sketches and offbeat field trips makes the nutrition lessons easy to digest.
“The food-doc shelf is crowded with good-for-you movies, including Fed Up, Fast Food Nation, Food Inc. and Super Size Me. That Sugar Film is a worthy addition, entertaining while informing. Timely, too: Just last week, the Food and Drug Administration proposed requiring companies to list added sugar in their labelling.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Rechtshaffen opined, “Given the number of food-related documentaries that have preceded it, many of Gameau's findings won't come as earth-shattering revelations, but he takes a resourceful approach to presenting the material, coating all the inconvenient truths in kid-friendly, brightly coloured graphics and zippy animations.
“Gameau, like a certain beloved British nanny, recognizes the value in a spoonful of you-know-what helping the medicine go down.”
The Washington Post’s Michael O'Sullivan hailed the film as “not only entertaining and informative, but also deeply disturbing, as Gameau puts on pounds and inches — along the way developing the beginnings of fatty liver disease.”
Village Voice’s Meave Gallagher said, “That Sugar Film suffers from some of the usual stunt-doc laziness, most often the shots of anonymous fat people whose corpulence is implicitly tied to sugar consumption. But Gameau builds his case well, and by the end of the painfully dorky musical number, you may be swapping your smoothies for berries and plain, full-fat yogurt.”
The estimated weekend gross in the US was $3,500, according to Box Office Mojo, which is typical for a multi-platform release.
As IF has reported, That Sugar Film is the highest-grossing Australian doc at home, excluding Imax, taking $1.7 million.
Madman Entertainment’s Paul Wiegard said, “The event release into national release for That Sugar Film has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Damon Gameau delivered a master class on how to support a local film and as a Madman Production the whole experience has been sweet .”