Impartiality in documentaries is all well and good in theory, but in practice it generally leads to a tough sit. Not nearly as hippie-dippy as it sounds, the new eco-doc Earth Days paints a pointed, occasionally freaky picture of the dire state of the planet. Featuring a wealth of facts from a number of genial brainiacs, this is an easily understood, swift-moving infodump, aided mightily by a booming score from Pixar regular Michael Giacchino. That said, if you tend to believe that Ronald Reagan wasn't actually the devil in human form, this may not be the movie for you.

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Beginning with a wittily depressing montage of presidents trumpeting immediate change, director Robert Stone's film covers roughly the span between JFK and Reagan. As the population exploded and natural resources steadily dwindled, a small number of forward-thinking types attempted to alert the general populace about the dark times ahead. Talking heads include activists, scientists, rebel politicians, a former astronaut, and, most winningly, a futurist who readily admits to being zonked on LSD while hatching his initial theories. Throughout, the director does an admirable job of highlighting the strengths of the hacky-sack movement, while also noting the occasional grievous lifestyle misstep. (Naked communal gardening just wasn't a good look for anyone.)

There are bumps, to be sure: Compelling as it generally is, the message sometime seems stuck on repeat, and Stone's choice of vintage film clips to illustrate points, however clever, is a bit too on the nose. (It might be time to retire the old Iron Eyes Cody pollution clip, guys.) What ultimately sticks, though, is a bunch of planet-sized brains secure enough in their doomy conclusions to deliver essential information without being strident about it. If you're going to be talked at, this is the way to go. recommended