Are we, as a species, slurping the bottom of the drink, waterwise? Jessica Yu’s alarming (and unusually zippy) doc assembles some frightening facts, in addition to giving the real-life Erin Brockovich a reason to return to the poisoned town of Hinkley, California, still a mess of disease and nonadmission. As tiny, well-lubricated children frolic at water parks to the pumping beat of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” we learn that the party’s about to end: Las Vegas, an unsustainable desert city of 2 million people, is trying to build a giant pipeline to the north to suck up natural resources (or die of thirst). Meanwhile, the Hoover Dam has such a low water level, estimates say it will stop producing energy within four years.
These matters should bother everybody, not just the do-gooders who flock to Yu’s highly polished piece of activist entertainment (past Participant Media titles include An Inconvenient Truth and Food, Inc.). Last Call at the Oasis would have benefited from a voice or two of skepticism, perhaps from the ostrichlike right wing that refuses to acknowledge the science behind global warming. As it stands, you have to supply your own fury, amid a fairly uniform panel of concerned interviewees. Still, the problem that often fells these docs—humorlessness—has been licked: Jack Black makes an exuberant cameo pitching recycled toilet water (his fake brand is called Porcelain Springs). Sound gross? Open wide, because it’s on the menu for all of us.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf