MVFF: Tapped (C+)

(Yes, today was a three-documentary day.) Okay, so here’s another one of those liberal expose films — this time, all about the sins of bottled water. And being a good liberal, I was all set to be shocked and called to action. But Tapped just didn’t work for me.

Good topical/social-issue documentaries are essentially journalism. The consistently best are probably the shows from WGBH’s Frontline series. You might not agree, but I’d put An Inconvenient Truth in that category, too.But Tapped isn’t in that league.

The issues surrounding bottled water — e.g., we pay more per gallon for it than we do for gasoline — are legitimate, and one could make a legitimately journalistic film that gets people all riled up. Unfortunately, Tapped forgoes real journalism. Even Michael Moore’s films are more honest than this. Tapped makes its cases mostly by implications. As a trivial example, there are repeated shots of a dirty plastic water bottle sinking slowly in a tropical ocean. Did the filmmakers just happen to get that shot time after time, or was there a diver positioning ot over and over again. Okay, that’s a silly example, but its typical.

After it convinces us of how evil the Nestlé company is for stealing the water of Newfield, Maine, the film jumps to references of cancer and other awful diseases. No explanation. No connection, at least at first. Just innuendo and association. Never any real facts that connect bottled water (and the plants that manufacture the bottles) to cancer. Yeah, they do eventually get there, but it’s all so implicit and not very good science. Again, I’m sure the manufacture of plastic water bottles is poisoning people who live nearby and good science on this exists, but Tapped doesn’t bring this to that conversation.

The film is also overproduced. Too slick. Too much doom-and-gloom music. Why can’t they trust the content to stand on its own? You’ll get the idea by visiting the film’s web site, but you may not want to. Not only does it have a Flash splash page, it also maximizes your browser to full screen. That alone is an unforgivable faux paux and just shows how over the top this project is. Stop buying water in plastic bottles, but skip this movie, too.

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