screenplay by Jesica Yu, based on the book The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century by Alex Prud'homme
directed by Jessica Yu
by Angelo Muredda Last Call at the Oasis is the latest casualty of Michael Moore's success. Like virtually every other North American informational doc with an activist slant since Moore's Bowling for Columbine, Jessica Yu's film tackles a serious issue--unequal access to the world's dangerously finite freshwater supply--with a barrage of animated charts, righteous talking-head interviews, ironically spliced music cues (Johnny Cash's cover of Bob Nolan's "Cool Water," Pink's "Raise Your Glass"), and archival footage from less enlightened educational fare, in this case 1948's "The Adventures of Junior Raindrop." Besides having an obvious facility with these tropes, Yu has her heart in the right place; as with Participant Media's other non-fiction efforts (among them, An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for "Superman"), with which this film shares its DNA, the politics are sound, landing firmly on the side of the disenfranchised and the weak, in hopes of bringing attention to what might otherwise be a lost cause. But there comes a point where the deluge of aesthetic shortcuts overwhelms the message, and makes the good work these movies are striving to do seem hopelessly routine.