Virgil Films // 2010 // 73 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 14th, 2010
Eat like your life depends on it.
This in not subtle filmmaking. The folks behind Chow Down are obviously passionate about their subject matter. They are committed to educating the viewer about the risk of poor diet and the potentially transformative effects that solid nutrition can have on the body.
It's a relatively brief documentary, clocking in at a shade north of 70 minutes and is made up of a combination of interviews with experts and scientists, close-up shots of delicious-looking food that will make you fat, interviews with fat people who probably ate that delicious-looking food, and some sporadic sequences of animation.
The thrust of Chow Down is familiar: eating tasty, crappy food will likely enlarge you and make you sick. And ingesting the good stuff can turn the tide against some nasty illnesses. Factoids and testimony are issued to support these claims. And then there are cartoons. And clips from Hollywood films that are suspiciously lacking copyright details.
I am down with the message the filmmakers are putting out there. Of course you should eat well and lay off the saturated fats. And to their credit, the directors have framed it as a voluntary choice -- one they endorse with full-throated vigor, sure, but still voluntary. Thankfully they stop short from endorsing some kind of moronic mandate. They lay out the case well enough: eat well, feel better, avoid dropping dead of a coronary by the age of 30.
While I like what they're selling, I'm not on board with how its being sold. Chow Down is designed to be light-hearted, but it's not clever or funny, and the attempts at giving it a unique twist falter. In the end, it's a straightforward warning shot about eating crap. But, really, who doesn't know that by now?
And, please, stop calling obesity an epidemic. Stuffing your face with onion rings isn't the same as H1N1.
The DVD: full frame. 2.0 stereo, behind-the-scenes footage, a recipe and some animation sketches.
Solid on substance, lacking in style.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Virgil Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 73 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated