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No Impact Man: The Documentary (2009)



Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 48
Fresh: 39 | Rotten: 9

Half enviro-saving doc, half publicity stunt, No Impact Man is inspiring and fun to both casual activists and hardcore recyclers.


Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 4

Half enviro-saving doc, half publicity stunt, No Impact Man is inspiring and fun to both casual activists and hardcore recyclers.



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 2,203


My Rating

Movie Info

"No Impact Man" follows the Beaven family as they abandon their high consumption Fifth Avenue lifestyle in an attempt to make a no-net environmental impact for the course of one year.

Jan 19, 2010

Oscilloscope Pictures

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September 10, 2009:
Critics Consensus: 9 Looks Great, But The Plot's Weak
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All Critics (48) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (9) | DVD (1)

No Impact Man is a very confused documentary that somehow puts its confusion to good use.

October 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This poignant, provocative documentary reduces the green movement to human scale -- and magnifies the size of mountain it's trying to climb.

September 30, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A strange yet riveting portrait of a marriage enduring a year spent making as little environmental impact as possible.

September 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like reality TV, there are moments of drama that have an aura of awkward self-consciousness about them and incidents that feel, if not staged, at the very least orchestrated, amped up. But you have to hand it to Beavan and Conlin.

September 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It may not be the greatest of cinematic exercises, and it often feels contrived, but this documentary somehow is enlightening, ridiculous, foreboding and funny at the same time.

September 18, 2009 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It all seems like a stunt, especially since Beaven has also written a just-published book about his experiences, but he and Conlin are an engaging pair who don't let zealotry get in the way of humor.

September 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whether gamely playing cards by candlelight or sneaking ice from her workplace fridge when Colin's homemade cooler fails, Michelle is the real star here, emotionally and dramatically.

October 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Scotsman

As pure entertainment, No Impact Man seesaws between infuriating and captivating, but gains undeniable brownie points for its light-hearted examination of sustainable living.

September 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4

It advances important and laudable ideas, but in a cliched, gimmicky way.

September 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian

It doesn't sound like fun, and it isn't fun to watch.

September 2, 2010
Little White Lies

Amiable enough, though it resembles a marketing tool for Beavan's book about his project.

September 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

While the hero may be resistible, this still makes for compelling viewing.

September 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

An intriguing documentary offering trial and experiment.

September 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Where the stunt ends and experiment begins is hard to tell...

January 18, 2010 Full Review Source:

what he and his family learned that they could do without and do without as a way of enriching their lives is both provocative and enviable

November 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Killer Movie Reviews
Killer Movie Reviews

No Impact Man is certain to raise questions among viewers - questions about the Beavans, questions about ourselves, questions about degrees of sustainability. And asking questions is what it's all about, isn't it?

October 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

This curiosity piece should stimulate interesting conversations about the lessons learned from the viewing experience.

October 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

It's kinda inspiring. It's also very funny.

October 15, 2009
Kansas City Star

Fortunately for the sake of documentary, Beavan is no humorless eco-scold, and he makes it clear that he's engaged in a lifestyle experiment, not recommending this extreme course for everyone.

October 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Beavan is nothing if not adept at selling himself.

October 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

If this sounds like a stunt, it is. But it's tough to get a book contract these days.

October 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Playback:stl

An interesting socio-analytical documentary that preaches valuable messages regarding global conservation. My problem is I wanted to shoot the film's pompous messenger.

October 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Charlotte Weekly

There's some food for thought to be gleaned from the film. It suggests a few small changes in our everyday lives that could make a big difference.

October 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

The real heat comes from Beavan's reluctant wife, Michelle Conlin, a self-proclaimed shopaholic and Starbucks poster girl.

September 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Audience Reviews for No Impact Man: The Documentary

A man lives for one year without affecting the environment, which means he uses no electricity, eats only locally produced food, composts all his waste, and wipes his ass with a dishrag.
I think the main character of this documentary is not "no impact man" but his unfortunate wife. There are several scenes near the beginning during which it seems as though she's being coerced into doing this "project." I frequently thought, "If by the end of this she converts to his way of thinking, I'm going to accuse this film of Stockholm Syndrome. So, Stockholm Syndrome is the unintentional subject of this documentary.
That last sentence is half-joking. Michelle seems critical and selective in her conversion.
Colin Beevan occasionally seems like a blow hard mouthpiece, but these scenes are counter-balanced by some moments of sincerity.
Other critics have accused Beevan of performing a mere publicity stunt, but isn't it a stunt only if he uses a hair dryer on the weekends? I think you could criticize him for waiting six months to turn off the lights, point out that he doesn't have a clever way to prevent waste water, or accuse him of insensitivity when he powers his laptop to write his blog with donated solar panels but doesn't let his wife use the juice for the refrigerator. But I don't see anything dishonest about Beevan. He is well-meaning and idealistic, and those are necessarily bad things.
Overall, I don't think No Impact Man will do anything to change your life (or mine), but Beevan's question of what could we live without is certainly food for thought.
August 20, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Quite honestly, the first thing that struck about Beavan's work, both tthe book and film, was 'why haven't I heard anything about this?' It is absolutely fascinating. Personally, I've already bought into the whole "green" movement, but it's really only after watching something like this that you realize the full extend of what you can cut out. Better still, it kind of causes you to think about what things you would and would not be willing to cut. I don't think anyone's defending consumer culture, but through laziness, ignorance, or lack of ambition, it's something we've all bought into. It's our entire culture really. I loved Michelle's observation that American roads and public places are created for SUV's, not people. We are all so completely indoctrinated into this way of life that to do otherwise seems revolutionary. Also, the Beavan's are incredibly likable. At times the film seems a bit stages, but they are not self-righteous are overall, they come across as decent people; they are not an unpleasant bunch to spend ninty minutes with.
June 6, 2011
Jake ....

Super Reviewer

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