I hope I’m not a bad person for turning off HBO’s global-warming scare-umentary Too Hot Not to Handle after 20 minutes, but there were times I wanted to leave the theater during Alien, too. I couldn’t take the impending horror. Executive producer Laurie David may very well be the Irwin Allen of our day — except most movie disaster mavens wait till the second half of the story to destroy the world. On Too Hot, the grim statistics, grimmer talking heads, hellacious stock footage and funereal soundtrack are laid on thick from the outset, with the overall spliced-together effect of red skies, pollution-spewing plants, collapsing glaciers, heat-wave deaths, floods, rotted crops and mosquitoes plunging West Nile virus into our skin playing like a doomsayer’s response to a falling-in-love montage from a dippy romantic comedy. Then there were the animated graphics of Earth being covered in whooshing gases that looked like those movies where the hero is paralyzed by knockout fumes from the supervillain: I half-expected to hear cackling laughter on the soundtrack, and a global-warming figure wearing an eye patch. Don’t get me wrong: I believe global warming is a real problem worth seriously, thoroughly and imaginatively curbing, and the fact that our president isn’t treating this age as a chance to inspire citizens the way Kennedy did with the space race is flat-out weird. And while I’m sure the special comes up with solutions at the end, I had to take a breather first, because by the time I turned it off, I was feeling a little too much like the eyelid-peeled Malcolm McDowell getting image-detoxed of violence in A Clockwork Orange.
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