⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG for thematic elements including images of smoking, and brief mild language.
If you’re old enough to recall the 1960s and earlier decades, you probably remember a time when obesity was not a commonly seen condition. Now look around you. What changed? Since 1977 Americans doubled their sugar intake. Thirty percent of the adult population is obese. Type 2 diabetes has exploded in the past 30 years.
“Fed Up,” a workmanlike documentary about the perils of America’s addiction to empty calories, puts the picture in easy-to-understand perspective and offers a personal and political call to action.
Stephanie Soechtig’s film frames the obesity epidemic as a result of diet fallacies in collision with flawed food policy. Executive-produced by Laurie David (“An Inconvenient Truth”) and Katie Couric, who narrates, the film is no partisan diatribe. It calls out Michelle Obama’s Get Moving campaign for focusing on exercise rather than tackling the politically thorny issue of powerful food industry interests distorting U.S. food policy. The film points to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s advocacy on behalf of Schwan’s of Marshall, Minn., which sells 70 percent of U.S. school cafeteria pizzas.
“The government is subsidizing the obesity epidemic,” says food writer Michael Pollan. “Fed Up” will make you want to do something about it.
FOR NO GOOD REASON
⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for language, some drug content and brief sexual images.
You’d never guess it from the pigment-splattering ferocity of his work, but English caricaturist Ralph Steadman is a lovely chap. Best known for his decades as the artistic accomplice to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Steadman is the mild-mannered focus of “For No Good Reason,” a biographical film that veers between affectionate appreciation and outright fawning. The film’s frame is a visit to Steadman’s estate by Johnny Depp (who played Thompson in the features “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “The Rum Diaries”). Depp guides Steadman through reminiscences of his past adventures with the high-living Thompson, and observes his creative process. Beyond Depp’s celebrity appeal, his unifying presence is useful. Director Charlie Paul piles on the split screens, with a deliberate jumble of film formats and film stocks chosen to represent each era in the story’s chronology. Interviews with Thompson, Terry Gilliam, Richard E. Grant and William Burroughs feel a bit random and tacked on. Your enjoyment of the film will probably parallel your appreciation for Steadman’s work.
⋆⋆ out of four stars