The information presented in Werner Boote’s Plastic Planet is so important that the documentary is a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in the staggering health costs of plastic to humans and the planet itself, or in the backroom machinations that have squelched studies outlining the product’s deleterious side effects. That’s the upside. The downside is that Boote, a discount Michael Moore, showboats so gratingly for the camera and tries so hard to set up “gotcha” moments for his slick corporate villains that he comes off worse than they do. (It doesn’t help that his line of questioning is frequently grade-school simplistic when he tries to hold subjects’ feet to the fire.) Still, when Boote gets out of the way, the film is illuminating and infuriating. We learn the history and evolution of plastic (including Boote’s family connection) before plunging into a grim rollout of data, case studies, interviews, and globe-spanning locales that have been devastated by our crippling dependence on it. There’s much that’s unsettling in the film, but one especially ominous point is that the havoc wreaked on the sexual organs of fish is being mimicked in humans, with plastic as the very likely culprit.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 12, 2011