Robert Stone

TCFF 2013: Day 5 – ‘Pandora’s Promise’ and ‘We’re the Millers’

Robert Stone

Robert Stone at a Q&A following a screening of his documentary “Pandora’s Promise” | Jane Boursaw Photo

Day five of the 9th Annual Traverse City Film Festival included one of my top R-rated comedies of all time and an indepth look into the idea that maybe nuclear power isn’t so bad after all.

Pandora’s Promise” is a documentary about the history and future of nuclear power. The film explores why many people who once feared the controversial technology are now embracing it as a real choice for the future.

It’s a historical analysis, cultural meditation and modern exploration of nuclear energy that aims to cultivate a serious debate over what is no doubt the most important question of our time: how do we continue to power modern civilization without destroying it?

I must admit that I’m still not sold on the idea. I have friends who were in the shadow of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl whose lives were changed drastically, so it’s going to take some serious talk to get me to switch over to the idea that nuclear power won’t kill all of us at some point.

Robert Stone, the director, writer, producer, cinematographer and editor of the film, did a Q&A afterwards, and moderator Michael Moore started things off by thanking Robert for helping him when he was a struggling filmmaker so many years ago.

“You were one of my first teachers and helped me so much when I knew nothing,” said Michael. “So I’m happy to be able to publicly thank you for that.”

Michael mentioned that he was surprised to learn that Robert was making this particular film, but said he’d give it a look because he respected his work so much.

“We need to re-think this core environmental belief [that nuclear power is bad],” said Robert. “When you demonstrate what really is going on, people come around … What the film has exposed is a split in the environmental movement. The anti-nuclear group of the environmental movement has lost control of the narrative.”

When a few audience members expressed dismay with the film’s content – in a brief show of hands, most of the audience agreed with the film – Robert noted that he really doesn’t care about nuclear power one way or the other. “I have no dog in this race. If someone proved that we could power the world by algae, I’d be for that, too.”

When an audience member mentioned that he was living off the grid, Robert noted, “I’ve got nothing against wind, nothing against solar. There’s no one solution. I think we’re going to need everything.”

We're the MillersI also had the opportunity to see “We’re the Millers,” one of the funniest R-rated comedies I’ve ever seen. It was also a “sneak preview,” prompting State Theatre manager David Poinsett to issue a stern warning to shut down and put away all devices before the film began.

“You do not want to mess with this guy,” he said of the “theater bouncer” behind him. “If we see a cell phone or other device, you will be asked to leave the theater.” Ok then! Everyone immediately shut down their devices and stashed them away.

Directed by, Rawson Marshall Thurber, the film stars Jason Sudeikis as a veteran pot dealer who creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico. Jennifer Aniston plays his wife, and the kids are played by Will Poulter and Emma Roberts. Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Quinn, and Tomer Sisley also star.

Some comedies try too hard to be funny. “We’re the Millers” does not have that problem. It doesn’t have to try. It just IS funny. Great casting, great delivery of lines, and great chemistry between all the characters.

I’m still laughing about this movie, and will probably see it again when it opens wide in theaters on Aug. 7, 2013.