Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead – Documentary

Another suggestion and another review. This documentary was perfect for what I was using it for, background noise. A few days ago I was trying to work on a project for a play I am in, and instead of sitting in the silence, I decided to put this on in the background. While what I said in the second sentence might sound harsh, I think I may have been bored even more by the end of the film had I paid attention the entire time.

The documentary is about a man named Joe Cross who is an overweight man with a lot of health concerns in his life. He has some immune disorder where his body will break out in rashes because the body thinks it is under attack. The example he uses is that when someone gets bit by a mosquito, their skin will swell in that spot, and it is a reaction by the body to help prevent toxins from bite to spread further. For him, his body has this reaction to random touches or scratches.

Anyway, Joe Cross decides to improve his health by going on a juice cleanse where he will fast for sixty days and the only thing he will consume are fruit and vegetable juices. However, he will only be using his own personal juicer, because the fruits and vegetables won’t be as processed or sugary as supermarket juices. Along his journey, he comes across a man named Phil Staples, who is a large truck driver who weighs over 400 pounds. Phil has the same condition as Joe, and he wants to lose weight to get healthier and happier. The first half is primarily focused on Joe losing weight and the second half is more focused on Phil.

One of the (few) good points brought up from the film is that losing weight and trying to be healthier is something that is determined by each individual person. While making his way across America, Joe comes across numerous people that he tells his story to. He’ll ask these people questions about their health and if they would do something like the cleanse or if they are concerned about their weight, and most people he runs into are apathetic and either don’t care about their weight or find themselves too lazy to do anything about it.

Although I wasn’t paying full attention to the movie, I don’t recall the documentary using a lot of statistics or scientific data. I think there might have been some moments here and there, but largely it was focused on this juice cleanse and while it apparently helped alleviate some symptoms and helps people lose weight, the film doesn’t discuss any potentially negative side effects. None of the “professionals” (as far as I remember) discuss much about the fruit cleanse. They will talk about food and the general health of people, but I don’t recall them discussing much of what Joe or Phil are doing.

The movie did focus, minutely, on the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables, but the movie used it to compare to the price of prescription drugs some of the people were on to treat their different illnesses. Over the past year I have seen several documentaries that have touched on health and food, and there is one big issue that Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead missed out on, a lot of unhealthy food can be bought in bulk for cheaper. A lot of whole food or organic stores will provide healthy options, but usually it comes at a higher cost. Bringing up how pricey medication can get was a good idea, but the movie didn’t show all sides of the issue they it should have.

I give this documentary a 4 out of 10. While it was nice to see a healthier alternative for people to lose weight, the movie (as other reviewers have said) seemed more like a two hour long infomercial than it did a documentary. The format of the movie was also a little odd. I understand everything happened chronologically, but the movie seemed like two different segments, because Joe has finished his fasting halfway through the movie and the second half was focused on Phil. It made the documentary seem divided. The biggest fault, in my opinion, was the fact that it really didn’t include many facts. While eating fresh fruits and vegetables can be healthy, it didn’t really tell the viewer on ways to maintain healthy eating habits. A better title would have been Long, Boring, and Nearly Educational.

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