Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ is arriving just when we need it

New film tells the rollercoaster story of the climate movement and Paris agreement with humor and humanity.

Al Gore screens his new film in DC Wednesday, July 19.
Al Gore screens his new film in DC Wednesday, July 19.

A decade ago, former Vice President Al Gore had one of the unlikeliest hit films of all time, An Inconvenient Truth. Now he’s back with a follow-up, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which premiered in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

In an interview with Stephen Colbert on CBS’s The Late Show Monday night, Gore joked, “And to young people in particular, I really recommend this movie as a date movie… it’s a hot date movie. It’s an amazingly hot date movie.”

But the truth is this movie is a great movie for anyone who cares about humanity and where we are headed. It tells the stories of the ups and downs of the climate movement, the Paris climate negotiations, and Gore’s own life — and it’s an emotional rollercoaster filled with moments of joy and despair.

Gore told the audience he thought the original, a 2006 documentary of a slideshow on climate change that would become one of the most successful documentaries of all time, was a “bad idea” and had to be convinced by Jeff Skoll, former CEO of eBay and founder of Participant Media. Skoll ended up producing the Oscar-winning film that help start a national conversation on climate change.

Gore and Skoll have again partnered to produce the sequel, which takes off where the original ends and tells the story — through Gore’s eyes — of the climate movement leading up to drama of the Paris climate negotiations and, yes, the election of President Donald Trump.

Gore sense of humor and his humanity suffuse the new movie, one of the reasons it’s even better than the original. Indeed, for those who still think of the former vice president in terms of his media stereotype from the 2000 election — “stiff” and “wooden” — the movie will be quite a surprise. He has emerged as a world-class communicator.

The sequel also fixes the biggest flaw in the original, which was criticized for not enough focus on solutions. This film makes the new clean energy revolution a major focus.

The documentary has many unexpected moments, including the behind-the-scenes role Gore played in getting India on board during the Paris negotiations and Gore’s remarkable meeting with a conservative Republican mayor “in the reddest county in the reddest state” who is taking his city 100 percent renewable.

This is a movie to take a date — or kids — to, but it is especially valuable for people who are involved in the climate movement, or any social justice movement.

For many activists, nothing is harder than staying motivated year after year in the face of the inevitable failures along the (too) slow road to social justice. But few progressives have had to face the disappointments and despair that Gore has, most infamously his controversial presidential defeat in 2000.

Yet Gore remains remarkably optimistic and filled with hope. Seeing how he is able to keep going decade after decade is an inspiring life lesson anyone can learn from.

The film hits theaters July 28.