4 Stars


Pump is an inspiring, eye-opening documentary that tells the story of America’s addiction to oil, from its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly today, and explains clearly and simply how we can end it – and finally win choice at the pump. Today oil is our only option of transportation fuel at the pump. Our exclusive use of it has drained our wallets, increased air pollution and sent our sons and daughters to war in faraway lands. Pump shows us how through the use of a variety of replacement fuels, we will be able to fill up our cars – cheaper, cleaner and American made – and in the process, create more jobs for a stronger, healthier economy.

My Opinion

The American relationship with oil is tricky, to say the least. Demand is high, and has been for decades, but it’s not exactly popularPump looks to take this contradiction and suggest alternatives.

In order to properly set up the push for alternative fuel sources, Pump first explores what led to oil becoming so integral to America in the first place. Briefly, the film explores different actions by the oil industry in the early 20th century that eliminated competition – actions like the oil industry’s buying-up of trolley systems across the country and replacing them with buses running on gasoline. The film also suggests that Prohibition was, in part, the result of the oil industry’s desire not to have competition for fuel from alcohol-based fuel sources explored by Ford in the early days of the automobile. It’s an intriguing, if depressing, area for the film to explore.

Before things become too depressing, though, Pump switches gears and suggests alternatives to oil. From electric cars, as made popular in some circles by Tesla Motors, to fuel sources like ethanol and methanol, the film works to show a variety of other methods that the filmmakers feel would provide the American people with more choice. They also highlight the ability of certain cars to work under technologies like GM’s Flex Fuel, where cars can take different kinds of fuel easily.

Pump also explores the oil and auto industry resistance to exploring alternative methods, and implies that the auto industry is intentionally working to mislead the American public’s views on alternative fuels.

Subtle, the film is not. But it is rather informative, and the Tickells add the right amount of flash to their presentation to help sell it. Jason Bateman serves as the film’s narrator, and he provides the right level of incredulity at the actions of the oil industry. Elsewhere, interviews with a wide range of subjects from oil and auto executives to the former leader of Brazil work to reinforce the potential viability of alternative fuel sources, and the film’s largest takeaway: that it’s up to the American people to demand change.



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