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Bill Nye: Science Guy SXSW Review: The Truth Behind The Legend

By Ryan Scott — March 16th, 2017

You would probably be hard-pressed to find a millennial who wasn't in some way, shape or form influenced by Bill Nye. To this day, his show Bill Nye the Science Guy is used by teachers as an educational tool. But he is much more than a pop culture staple and a bowtie proponent. He is a very real man who has a very real passion for making the world a better place. That is what the documentary Bill Nye: Science Guy shows audiences and it does an incredible job of that.

In Bill Nye: Science Guy, which recently held its world premiere at SXSW, directors David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg give us a deep look at Bill Nye the man as he tried to get away from his "kids show act" persona and become a true voice for science in the eyes of adults. We see Bill Nye try to accomplish the late Carl Sagan's dream of launching a spacecraft that could change interplanetary exploration as well as him dealing with the issue of climate change and trying to convince deniers and other experts in the field that climate change is very real and we need to do something now. Can Bill show the world why science matters in a culture increasingly indifferent to evidence? Especially in the face of those who say he is just a kids TV show actor?

Many relatively young folks have fond memories of watching Bill Nye the Science Guy in class and learning about stuff like gravity and the periodic table of elements in ways that are much more stimulating than what most teachers were capable of. But what of the man behind that persona? It turns out that is just as engaging. Being the face of science education still brings with it some of the curses of celebrity, even if Bill Nye is famous as an educator and proponent of science. He is stopped constantly in public for selfies. He perhaps sacrificed a family for his larger goals. There is a lot that most people who smile when they hear the man's name or when they see that smile and that signature bowtie simply don't know. Bill Nye: Science Guy sheds some light on that perfectly and lets us know who Bill Nye the man is. Not Bill Nye the pop culture persona. Not the celebrity.

I challenge anyone to walk away from this movie not feeling inspired. Well, I suppose if you are a huge fan of creationism and a massive global warming denier this movie may offend your sensibilities quite a bit, but there is probably still joy to be had here. Even some of his strongest opponents in the movie concede to some degree, which makes for some of the best moments in this movie and represents the deepest charm in Bill Nye: Science Guy. The brilliance of this documentary is that many of us grew up simply watching his show and not really knowing what happened to the man in the bowtie. Bill Nye: Science Guy gives us that answer. Fascinatingly, it isn't all peaches and roses. As a man who doesn't have a Ph.D. and got his degree in engineering, he has faced a lot of criticism, sometimes from his peers and has, at times, struggled to find his place post Bill Nye the Science Guy. We are also treated to a very in-depth look at his relationship with his family and some of the struggles that brings into his life.

Unless your beliefs run very counter to the overall message of science being a good thing, I can't possibly see you not enjoying Bill Nye: Science Guy. It is perfectly executed, heartwarming and does everything a great documentary can possibly do at the highest level; inform and entertain. Much like what many of us loved about Bill Nye the Science Guy as a TV show, this movie will both entertain and educate you and more than likely, leave you smiling. Possibly even with a little tear in your eye. You'll leave not only loving "The Science Guy," but you'll also love the real man that is Bill Nye.