For the past 20 years, in his second career as a best-selling author, Howard Bloom has been grappling with the big questions, all of which can be boiled down to, as he puts it here, “What does the universe want from you and me?” Bloom has, in the pre-Covid-19 world chronicled in this documentary about him, a strict routine that helps him in this discipline.
It includes morning exercise and consulting a list of reminders of what to take with him when he ventures out of his Brooklyn brownstone. It also involves a staggering number of medications, which he needs to combat his chronic fatigue syndrome, which struck him in 1988 and left him unable to step out of his bed, let alone his apartment, for many years.
Directed by Charlie Hoxie, “The Grand Unified Theory” is a moderately engaging documentary that credibly portrays Bloom’s indefatigability. He speaks of his aspiration to be a “24 hour-a-day information processing device” and defends his auto-didacticism by saying “Grad school looked like Auschwitz for the mind.” That eyebrow-raising simile is emblematic of Bloom’s bluff offhandedness, which likely served him well in his first career as a high-profile music publicist. (Recalling his tenure representing Run-DMC, he says, “We made rap.” Kurtis Blow and others might like a word.)
The movie spends more time on Bloom’s personality than it does on the ideas promulgated in such volumes as “The Lucifer Principle,” for which the actor Jeff Bridges contributes an onscreen blurb. And when Bloom confides his plan to let a Dubai-based fitness instructor and gym entrepreneur handle his archives, we get into what looks like some P.T. Barnum territory.