No Impact Man: The Documentary

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 48


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,250
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No Impact Man: The Documentary Photos

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.

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Critic Reviews for No Impact Man: The Documentary

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (8)

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

    Sep 2, 2010 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • It doesn't sound like fun, and it isn't fun to watch.

    Sep 2, 2010 | Rating: 1/5
  • No Impact Man is a very confused documentary that somehow puts its confusion to good use.

    Oct 1, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

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

    Sep 30, 2009 | Rating: 3/4
  • A strange yet riveting portrait of a marriage enduring a year spent making as little environmental impact as possible.

    Sep 24, 2009 | Rating: 3/4
  • 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.

    Sep 24, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for No Impact Man: The Documentary

  • Apr 25, 2012
    Even that isn't a prime work it is beautiful since it goes beyond of environmental issues and mind's health, it faces the capitalist consumerism questioning our subjective life style. No Impact Man is, foremost, inspiring.
    Júnior D Super Reviewer
  • Aug 20, 2011
    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 <i>his</i> 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 <i>No Impact Man</i> will do anything to change your life (or mine), but Beevan's question of what could we live without is certainly food for thought.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 06, 2011
    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.
    Jake . Super Reviewer
  • Dec 18, 2010
    "No Impact Man" is about writer Colin Beavan who decides to take a more activist approach to his craft. For a year, he plans on reducing his and his family's impact on the environment to almost none. Since he feels recycling is insufficient, he has his family give up newspapers, magazines, coffee, eating at restaurants and most importantly, toilet paper, and writes about it on his blog. The only food consumed will be bought at the farmer's market at Union Square(by doing so, cutting down on the transportation of food by only buying local and becoming vegetarians in the process). In fact, any motorized transport including elevators and the subway are out.(Did I mention he lives in Manhattan?) Personally, I would allow mass transit. Eventually, he plans on even going without electricity entirely, with the exception of his laptop to write his blog and other activities. In the end, he gets a lot of notoriety in the press from all over the world through his blog but little in the way of actually inspiring others. As drastic as some of his actions may seem(akin to cold turkey), there are a lot of good ideas there, including the increased use of bicycles in cities. And I like a family with a young child going without television but this could also lead to charades. What the documentary is mostly interested in, however, is not the substance of Colin's activism then the soap opera of his family's daily life, especially the irrelevant conversations on pregnancy which felt like prying. As one person in the documentary puts it, reducing pregnancies is another good way of reducing humanity's impact on the environment.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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