Movie review: Cult hit ‘What the Bleep’ is new age hooey

Read this to see if you’re in the target audience for the new cult-hit documentary, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” See if you can follow the logic:

“There’s a great mystery called the mystery of the direction of time,” says one of the film’s talking-head authorities. “It’s a puzzle in the fundamental laws of physics why we should be able to remember the past but not have the same access to the future. Or that by acting now we control the future, but not the past.”

Duh. The future hasn’t happened yet, you twit. Yet, the so- called authority continues that such things “are so basic . . . not to think about them is to be three-quarters dead.” If that’s the case, start shoveling the dirt on me now. I got better things to worry about.

Then there’s another authority who assures us, “If you believe with every fiber of your body that you can walk on water, well, of course you can.” Right. Of course. Or is that a blub-blub-blub I hear? “What the Bleep Do We Know?” is New Age hooey, disguised as a scientific documentary about quantum physics, which is described as the science of possibilities.

Certainly, in its broadest sense, the film is right that there are myriad untapped mysteries in the human mind and body, and it’s intriguing to speculate about them. And, yes, the film spotlights some interesting material, particularly a middle section about the body’s chemical responses to emotions and how they trigger attitudes and behaviors.

But to get that five minutes of insight, filmgoers have to patiently weed through many more minutes of gobble-de-gook. Granted, “What the Bleep” features quite an array of professors, PhDs, authors and teachers among its talking heads, and some are very impressive. However, credibility goes bye-bye when we get to JZ Knight, a woman who supposedly “channels” a mystic named Ramtha. If she’d just bend a spoon or pull a bunny out of a hat, we could all go home.

To try to make sense of its scattergun science and pseudo- science, filmmakers William Arntz, Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicenteall present a fictional character named Amanda (Marlee Matlin), who goes on a vague odyssey into her consciousness, trying to understand her own behavior and her place in the universe. There’s not a plot, per se; Amanda is more like an every woman, who becomes a modern-day Alice, jumping down a rabbit hole.

Despite my strong skepticism, I realize some filmgoers are passionate about “Bleep”; it’s become a cult hit, particularly on the West Coast.

However, if I’m going to recommend a documentary about physics, it’d be “A Brief History of Time,” a superb Errol Morris film from 1993, in which famed physicist Stephen Hawking discusses his ideas on the origins of the universe and its possible future. If I’m going to leap down a rabbit hole, I’d rather have Morris and Hawking as my tour guides, rather than a woman who is supposedly channeling a mystic.

Vacation? Short break? Day trip? Get Skip-the-line tickets at GetYourGuide.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Gannett News Service, via the Citizen-Times, USA
Oct. 14, 2004
Jack Garner

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday October 14, 2004.
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