Remember those out-of-date educational films we all had to watch in junior high? The ones with perky, impractical people who tried to convey Reading Rainbow-style lessons using music that was a generation old? Well, either What the #$*! Do We Know? is a cool version of those seventh-grade science videos or I'm getting geekier.
Written, directed and produced by Betsy Chasse, Marc Vincente and William Arntz, What the #$*! Do We Know? is part New Age documentary, part animated scientific educational film and several parts hooey. Still, the 109-minute film offers plenty of profound and abstract ideas while the DVD's flip side features deleted scenes and special features. Despite a boring and (apparently intentional) sophomoric performance by Marlee Matlin, What the #$*! Do We Know? engages viewers in the mysteries of quantum physics: What are we made of and where did we come from? Do we share matter with alternate universes and dimensions?
Even if you can't stomach the patronizing little boy with a basketball or the drawn-out musings of brainiacs, the movie does strike at the core of every basic human question. As wild-haired physicist Fred Allan Wolf notes, "The real trick to life is not to be 'in the know,' but to be in the mystery."
According to this brilliant panel of quantum physics professors, spiritual leaders and philosophers, all the matter in the world -- including us -- is, in essence, a compilation of ideas and information. The universe, quite literally, is made of possibility. Through our actions and thoughts and the chemicals we produce, we create reality and arrange its course; we control our destinies; by doing so, we change the world. Well, #$*!! That's a hefty load of responsibility.
If you can put aside the predictable transformation-driven self-help aspects of What the #$*! Do We Know? and listen to the big concepts, the film works well. It's inspiring, educational and even a bit charming. Any movie that aims to get viewers asking questions and thinking big is worth more than the blockbusters that strive to "dumb and numb."