I come not to praise or bury "Forks over Knives" because I haven't seen it in its present run. I think I've seen it in a preview, but am honestly still not sure. But movie reviewers who have seen it recently are digging the hole with forks and knives to bury this film.
There are those who love the movie but more so for the message and not the movie's presentation.
So how important is it for a movie with a message to have that message be intriguing to watch?
These documentaries don't have to be song and dance to explain why you should eat better, or the message in this movie, which is "give up meat products." There are compelling movies that if you've seen one, you've seen several of them. I have reviewed "Food, Inc." and "Fresh" and have enjoyed "Super Size Me." These movies teach you yet you are still interested in the content and presentation.
The two reviewers from "Ebert at the Movies" sum up the issue of substance vs. style:
"He (Lee Fulkerson) utters the phrase 'whole food, plant-based diet' so many times, it could be a drinking game. But it probably shouldn't be because then you'd be consuming too much sugar." — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press
"A PowerPoint presentation combined with maybe a brochure and a hectoring guy on the street coming up to you with a clipboard." — Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Mubi.com.
They certainly aren't haters to the message, but as Vishnevetsky points out, "a documentary is still a movie."
And this review from the Chicago Reader: "If you're curious about the whole-foods movement, try Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food, which addresses the subject from a wider variety of perspectives and does so in a far less insulting manner than this extended infomercial, with its muzak score, entire sequences lifted from network TV news, and bar graphs illustrating every other scene."
Rotten Tomatoes weighs in, as does a San Francisco Chronicle reviewer who is a 20+years vegetarian and The New York Times where the review notes that "this dense documentary would rather inform than entertain ... this trudge through statistics, graphs and grainy film of cholesterol bubbles and arterial plaque may challenge even the most determined viewer. Uninflected narration and marching columns of numbers cast a retro glow, like a 1950s health education class taught by Dr. Oz."
Understandably, those in the realm of wanting others to eat better are reluctant to bash a movie, even if it isn't exciting because they don't want to be seen as "haters."
From watching the trailer and previews, I do feel like I've seen the movie, or maybe a movie like it, because I've seen a lot of these movies. And maybe I have seen this movie. The more I watch the previews, the more I think I really have seen this film.
The truth is some of these movies are not exciting. These documentaries have to be as fun and exciting as "Food, Inc." or "Super Size Me." Those who make these movies and watch these movies should know two things:
1) Those who are already on board with the message are more patient with presentation.
2) Those who aren't on board need to be entertained while they learn.
You may not like the message that movie reviewers are delivering about "Forks over Knives." But if you want to convert more people to the message, these movie reviewers have a very good point.
If you have seen "Forks over Knives" and other films, we invite you in the comments section. Compare this film with other films and let us know what you think. And if this is the first film of its kind that you've seen, let us know whether you were entertained or fell asleep.