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Review: 'The Grounded' digs itself into a hole

In "The Grounded," filmmaker Steve Kroschel sets out, with clumsy exuberance, to promote the health benefits of grounding. Also called earthing, it's the practice of walking barefoot on the earth, lying naked on it or otherwise achieving skin-to-soil communion. Among the reputed restorative results are better sleep and reduced inflammation.

Grounding may have healed Kroschel's aches and pains, but it didn't give him the clarity to make a coherent documentary on the subject.

Via voiceover and onscreen text, the film presents a clutter of pronouncements on everything from the northern lights to Native American wisdom, adopting a tone of New Age hectoring awe. The music swells, the hyperbole overfloweth, and the evidence is more muddled than persuasive.

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Kroschel's neighbors in a small Alaska town attest to dramatic results from the grounding kits that he provided, designed to keep them connected to earthly curative energy while sleeping. There's no reason to doubt their experience, but the documentary's hopscotching hardly builds a compelling argument. Most dubious is the way the filmmaker seeks endorsements from the likes of David Suzuki and a couple of Apollo astronauts. The comments he elicits speak to the primacy of nature, or the interconnectedness of all living things, touching vaguely at best on earthing itself.

An orphaned moose enters the hodgepodge as a character from a different, more involving movie, while the worthy topic of natural healing ends up diced into scenes that play like outtakes from a wan spinoff of "Northern Exposure."

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"The Grounded."

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.

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