Movie review: All will not be revealed in ‘The Nature of Existence’

It can’t help but disappoint that there’s not more on the actual nature of existence in “The Nature of Existence.” But taking on the Big Questions in a 94-minute documentary is bananas, as the filmmakers winkingly acknowledge with the tag line: “Every mystery of human existence … explained in one movie!” As a conversation starter, though, it’s an affable appetizer.

The film is really mostly about the foibles of religion, but gently so. It benefits from director Roger Nygard’s (“Trekkies”) light comic touch and heartfelt “desire to communicate truth,” as one subject says is often lacking in discussions of religious beliefs.

The sound bites Nygard allows from people of faith on the titular topic can be summed up as “We exist to serve God.” There are slightly longer snippets from scientists who say just enough to blow one’s mind. If nothing else, one fact remains clear: String theory is crazy weird.

Nygard interviews smart friends on pertinent issues, then broadens his search to key locations across the country and eventually to holy and intellectual centers around the world. Many different beliefs are represented, but one senses some deck-stacking when he gives significant time to Ultimate Christian Wrestling (ministries).


There are pithy nuggets, as from the seventh-grader who derides notions of heaven as a place of endless happiness; Nygard’s take on questions of an afterlife, whether he should live for now or later; and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s quote that “Religion is the banana skin; spirituality is the banana.”

“The Nature of Existence.” MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. At Lammle’s Sunset 5, West Hollywood; Edwards University Town Center 6, Irvine.