By: Addison Wylie
Actor Jason Bateman narrates Pump as if he’s providing a voiceover for a car commercial. This is fitting since a large chunk of the documentary feels like one extra-long commercial for alternative fuels and electric vehicles. However, Joshua and Rebecca Harrell Tickell have conceived a lively, well intended film that I ended up being quite fond for.
Many documentaries chronicling selfish behaviour behind big business (or, in this case, Big Oil) have the tendency to hammer in unflattering statistics with brute force, allowing the eco-friendly filmmakers to swing open the doors to welcome suggestions for a brighter, more efficient future. Pump is guilty of doing this, but I never felt the filmmakers were pummelling me with an agenda.
The Tickells show movie goers how everything is interconnected with oil, and how essential the resource is in our everyday life. This may be old news for some, but Pump’s connecting threads are eye-opening in the presentation and through its adamant interviewees.
The doc’s writing (penned by Johnny O’Hara) occasionally suggests the film is using economic Coles Notes to pack in a multitude of information. It’s like watching a College professor sweat through an entire course load in order to educate students by the end of the week. However, the filmmakers are able to choose a proper, digestible pace and equip the facts with vibrant animations. The flashy display may turn off viewers who are vying for a calmer, steadier movie, but this approach competently opens the material up to audiences of all ages.
If Pump goes overboard anywhere, it’s the blatancy of how the filmmakers are using patriotism as manipulation. Viewers are reminded throughout the documentary that consumers have a choice to change the future and that this proactive attitude is what drives America. The Tickells and O’Hara play this card too many times and may receive flagrant eye rolls from audiences.
The beneficial suggestions describing methanol and ethanol are well researched, very persuasive, and respectable towards its potential buyers. Especially when the doc considers the Average Joe/Jill along with their opinions on alternative fuels versus reliable oil. When the Tickell’s start uncovering secrets like how most American vehicles are Flex Fuel compatible, Pump is astounding. Earth Day has since passed, but Pump is still a nice way to celebrate a positive, attainable future.