Bill Nye rose to prominence in the mid-nineties on the strength of his titular TV show, which taught kids the wonders of science. During the course of this uneven portrait he's dubbed both "America's favourite scientist" and "the science teacher we all wish we had," the latter by Neil deGrasse Tyson, no slouch himself.
It's a by-the-numbers profile, complete with the requisite visit to his childhood home, but, partway through, it becomes a rather piercing portrait of a man constantly doubting himself – while he studied under Carl Sagan, he lacks a PhD and is therefore, in the eyes of his detractors, not a real scientist – and struggling with his celebrity.
He's on a mission to dismantle the claims of climate-change deniers and anti-science zealots, but there's a real chance he's doing more harm than good: At one point he debates noted "Young Earth Creationist" Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum, which only serves to drum up donations to Ham's even-more-insane Ark Encounter, a life-sized recreation of Noah's boat, which Nye later tours with obvious discomfort. ("The scientists on your staff, as respectful as I can be, are incompetent," Nye tells Ham.) Nye isn't the most sympathetic figure – he's aloof and surprisingly full of himself – and interviews with his friends, some of whom he's betrayed in his quest for fame, reveal a far different man than the zany scientist the world came to love.
Still, he's laser-focused – Nye never married, has no kids – and his battle to save the planet for future generations – the children of those who watched him on TV – is noble. (N/A) Mark Medley