By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
REVIEW (Grade: B+)
On July 24 2010, tens of thousands of people around the world participated in a wholly unique filmmaking experiment. They filmed their day and sent the footage (amounting to 80,000 clips and 4500 hours of footage) to filmmakers sponsored by National Geographic and Youtube; the best bits were compiled and edited into this amazing 90 minute documentary. Life in a Day is a funny, heartbreaking, tender, gritty, eye-opening, and ultimately uplifting snapshot of one day of human experience on planet Earth. Though it pulls no punches in portraying the harsh realities (cancer, riots, poverty, bigotry, death, and divorce), the overwhelming tone is one of appreciation for the goodness in humanity.
Some viewers may balk at the constantly shifting picture quality (some of the cinematography is stunning, some of it grainy and amateur) and the non-narrative format (a few stories are revisited throughout the film, but largely it jumps unpredictably from one random person to the next). For me, however, the judicious editing yields thought-provoking contrasts and highlights the universal truth that human beings are both incredibly diverse and remarkably alike. We all long for love, we all suffer, we all need hope and meaning. Life in a Day is an entertaining, one-of-a-kind movie that invites the viewer to broaden their perspective and connect with their brothers and sisters, children of God, around the world. It is available to watch for free and in full on YouTube and on Netflix streaming.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Life in a Day is rated PG-13. It has several moderate profanities and two possible f-words (unclear to me, as the speaker possessed a thick English accent). Twice women are shown breastfeeding. There is one crude sexual joke as an elderly couple renews their marital vows. The slaughter of a cow is shown, with two shots to the head and its throat slit. People are trampled to death (off-camera) at an enormous public event; we see medical workers try to revive a body. The births of a giraffe and a human baby are shown. A man is punched in the back. The film portrays various lifestyles and belief systems, passing no judgement one way or another. For example, a loving father and husband's Christian faith in Heavenly Father is contrasted with an Eastern woman's burning incense to many gods and a child's fear that there is no God. A gay man outs himself to his grandmother, who appropriately expresses love for him. A drunk man is interviewed. There is a brief shot of immodest women in a limousine.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: There are good people in all corners of the earth and of all faiths.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.