Lee Fulkerson’s Forks Over Knives is, in fact, just as important as people have been claiming it to be since its release. But here’s a documentary that most people are going to ignore, both for its (let’s face it) no frills presentation and its subject matter: it doesn’t matter that Forks Over Knives could conceivably save your life, because the subject of “what we eat” is as personal to the masses as what political party they affiliate with…and no one wants to have their personal choices questioned. Anyway, should ya see it? Read on for my full review, after the jump.
Here’s a little background to let you know where I’m coming from on Forks Over Knives: earlier this year, after realizing that I’d hit the end of my twenties and had totally lost any interest in maintaining my health (out of pure laziness, not for any emo reasons), I decided to straighten myself out. I started going to the gym again, threw out all the crap food that my roommate and I had in the house, and started eating a high-protein, lower-carb (relative to what I’d been eating before) diet. After two or three months of daily (and, more often than not, twice-daily) gym visits and dieting, I’d lost about 25 pounds.
But, still, that wasn’t enough: I realized that there was nothing stopping me from going back to my bad, old habits, and when taken into consideration with my genetics (I come from a family of tubby, Hobbit-like people), I decided that even more drastic measures needed to be taken. And so, a couple months ago, I laid out about $10,000, pulled on one of those ass-bearing hospital gowns, and had a doctor run me through the lap-band procedure. And now, two months later, I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was before that procedure, and I’m getting ever-closer to my target weight. Soon enough, I’ll actually be in better shape than I was in during high school. Quite frankly, it’s awesome, and I’m very proud of all the decisions I made along the way, even if I did employ outside help in the process.
What’s the point? Well, Lee Fulkerson’s Forks Over Knives deals with being overweight, dieting, and the insidious effects that animal protein and high-fructose corn syrup can have on our lives. Here, Fulkerson’s talking about making decisions towards what we eat in a way that I fully agree with. He’s pointing out how much damage the modern diet causes our bodies, and he lays out a really solid plan for fixing what damage might already have been done: very basically, Forks Over Knives endorses a whole-foods, vegetable-only diet, and the parade of doctors, scientists, and hippie-types that Fulkerson trots out in front of the camera provide a slew of facts, figures, and proofs that’ll eliminate any doubt that they know what they’re talking about.
The trouble I had with the film didn’t revolve around whether or not I thought Fulkerson (who, as part of the documentary, goes on a six-month veggie-only diet that eventually restores his good sleeping habits, healthy, and energy) was “right”. Rather, it had everything to do with…well, not wanting to follow the orders being presented here. And for someone like me– who’s just spent six months reforming his body, eating healthier, and losing a ton of weight in the process (not to mention sleeping better, having more energy, and many of the other “side effects” mentioned in Forks Over Knives)—that’s quite a big deal. Fulkerson and his team might be correct, but this film is never interesting enough for me to abandon the process that’s been working for me.
And, really, that’s my biggest problem with the film—the fact that it’s “never interesting”. That’s almost certainly a poor choice of words: it’s not that it’s not interesting (all the data presented here is smart and compelling), it’s that it’s not exciting. With Forks Over Knives, you’re in for 90 minutes of talking heads, low-energy interviews, and a parade of empirical information delivered in the blandest way possible. If Forks Over Knives has been as emotionally-charged and visually compelling as, say, Supersize Me, I might be more inclined to recommend it.
But as it stands, the film—which, in addition to telling Fulkerson’s tale, also focuses on three ill people whose maladies are battled with the vegetarian diet being pushed here (it’s the same sort of structure you’ve seen in many other documentaries, it’s just not as interesting to watch here)—simply isn’t dynamic enough. I loves me some documentaries, but when they’re as dry as this one is, I completely understand why most of the people I know make a sour face whenever I say things like, “I loves me some documentaries”. Not all documentaries are boring as hell, people, but you wouldn’t know that watching Forks Over Knives.
Here’s my recommendation: get in shape, go to the gym, find a diet that makes sense and works for you. Y’know, if you’re feeling overweight and uncomfortable in your own skin. Maybe, if you think that an all-veggie diet is something you could get behind, give Forks Over Knives a shot (just be sure to drink lots of coffee beforehand). But if you’re never gonna give up that twice-weekly steak you’ve enjoyed for the past decade, you can probably skip Fulkerson’s film, because even if the information presented herein is scientifically accurate and likely to save your life…it’s never going to breach your defenses.
My Grade? B+ (for information), C- (for watchability)