Food, Inc Review Wrapup [metacriticsm]
Food, Inc opens Friday, and reviews so far have been extremely favorable — for example, it has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Here, in no particular order, are a bunch of reviews (including gasp! some negative ones from expected sources).
David Edelstein for New York magazine:
The sheer scale of the movie is mind-blowing—it touches on every aspect of modern life. It’s the documentary equivalent of The Matrix: It shows us how we’re living in a simulacrum, fed by machines run by larger machines with names like Monsanto, Perdue, Tyson, and the handful of other corporations that make everything.
Robert Sietsema, calling it an "expertly crafted documentary," for the Village Voice:
Despite occasional episodes of spiritual uplift, the film cultivates a feeling of paranoia as it progresses, so that none of the printed nostrums flashed over the final credits ("You can change the world with every bite") can dispel the notion that we and the earth are permanently and irretrievably fucked.
Update: The New York Times' Manohla Dargis files her review, calling it "an informative, often infuriating activist documentary":
You’ll shudder, shake and just possibly lose your genetically modified lunch... There is, in the end, something inherently frustrating about a movie that’s at once as fine, ambitious and, at a crisp 93 minutes, as abbreviated as “Food, Inc.” Time and again the movie stops short before it really gets started...
Update #2: In his review for the New York Post, Kyle Smith calls the film "the latest of many documentaries from the Your Hamburger Will Kill You subgenre":
Trading on now-familiar gross-out tactics (images of corporate slaughterhouses and chicken sheds), the movie offers very little that food radicals don't already know. Journalists Eric Schlosser (who is shown enjoying a burger, somewhat undercutting the film's point) and Michael Pollan serve as the packhorses, turning up to say things on camera they've been saying in print for years...
Owen Gleiberman for Entertainment Weekly:
... an essential, disturbing portrait of how the food we eat in America has become a deceptively prefab, even hazardous industrial product.
Rebecca Ruiz for Forbes:
Perhaps, as the film suggests, the industrial food complex has no regard for long-term public health and environmental costs. But if food activists continue to cling to unrealistic ideals--and atypical examples of success--and fail to confront the questions of cost and scale, then they will vindicate critics of the movement, who argue that this new era of food production is only for the privileged.
Regina Schrambling, writing for Epicurious:
No matter how much you know about this country's industrialized food supply, you will see even worse unintended consequences of allowing a few huge, profit-driven businesses to control so much of what we eat... As with so much else in the film, dots are connected devastatingly. I'm sure some critics will scream manipulation, but it's for all the right reasons.
John Anderson for Variety:
... Robert Kenner's doc -- which does for the supermarket what "Jaws" did for the beach -- marches straight into the dark side of cutthroat agri-business, corporatized meat and the greedy manipulation of both genetics and the law. Doc biz may be in the doldrums, but "Food, Inc." is so aesthetically polished and politically urgent, theatrical play seems a no-brainer
Corby Kummer, for The Atlantic:
[Y]es, you have to see it. There hasn't been a film this important about American food production, and probably not about industrialized food anywhere.
Kim Severson, for the New York Times:
Viewers who haven’t thought much about how all that food in the grocery store got to be there will likely find it hard to toss a few packages of pork chops and some Froot Loops in the cart and call it a day.
David Lauren via WWD:
Even the fashion crowd is on board this new food revolution. Daisy Lowe shops the Union Square greenmarket when she cooks for her boyfriend and David Lauren has started growing strawberries, potatoes and arugula at his home in Westchester. "If you didn't [see this film] because you were interested in learning, you come out feeling like you're on a mission now to eat differently," Lauren said.
Regis Philbin via New York magazine:
After watching what goes into the meat in a hamburger, I don’t know if I can do it again. And if I can’t eat hamburgers, it’s going to be the great tragedy of my life.
Corporations and Lobbyists, However
Monsanto, unsurpringly, is less than thrilled, and built a mini site to "set the record straight":
Food, Inc. is a one-sided, biased film... Food, Inc. is counter-productive to the serious dialogue surrounding the critical topic of our nation’s food supply.
The Center for Consumer Freedom, a lobbyist group that rails against "self-anointed 'food police,' health campaigners, trial lawyers, personal-finance do-gooders, animal-rights misanthropes, and meddling bureaucrats." had this to say:
[S]haking a fist at the companies who provide millions of Americans with access to affordable foods won’t change anything.
Last night’s panelists didn’t have much more to add. A few rambling monologues from Alice Waters were met with polite applause and some bewildered looks. Eric Schlosser lost us at “chicken nuggets shaped like Teletubbies.” But at least organic dairy giant Gary Hirshberg gave us some free yogurt.