Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead: Movie Review

Inspirational if familiar cautionary documentary about the obesity epidemic. 

The film centers on filmmaker Joe Cross' dramatic 100-pound weight loss during a two-month span drinking nothing but juice.

You’ll find yourself compelled to go out and purchase a juicer after watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, Joe Cross and Kurt Engfehr’s film about the former’s 100-pound weight loss during two months spent eating nothing but natural foods turned into juice.

Of course, that’s exactly the point of this virtual infomercial passing itself off a documentary that is being released by a “health and wellness” company that happens to sell, you guessed it, juicers, among other products.

That’s not to mitigate the film’s valuable if by now less than revelatory message about the growing obesity epidemic in America. Indeed, if any audience member feels inspired to go down a similar health-oriented path as the filmmaker, then much can be forgiven.

Cross was a young and financially successful Australian businessman who, thanks to a wildly self-indulgent lifestyle, found himself tipping the scales at 310 pounds while also suffering from a serious autoimmune disease. Finally determined to change his life, he decided to travel across America and embark on a 60 fruit and vegetable juice fast. And, like so many people intent on chronicling their lives, he brought along a camera crew to film the process.

Along the way, he interacts with a large number of Ordinary Joes who have clearly not given much thought to their diets or overall health. Chief among them is Phil Staples, a morbidly obese truck driver who Cross takes under his wing.

While at first the film is largely informational, offering a plethora of facts and statistics accompanied by whimsical animated interludes, it essentially becomes an inspirational tale of how Cross inspires his disciple to clean up his act. By the conclusion, ample visual evidence is provided of both men’s dramatic physical and emotional transformations.

Playing like a sort of reverse Super Size Me minus Morgan Spurlock’s acerbic wit, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead is unlikely to have that film’s societal impact. But for all its aesthetic deficiencies and self-promotional aspects, it at least provides a valuable and important message. 

Opens: April 1 (Reboot Media)
Directors: Joe Cross, Kurt Engfehr
Story: Joe Cross, Robert Mac
Producer: Stacey Offman
Executive producers: Joe Cross, Shane Hodson, Robert Mac
Director of photography: Daniel Marracino
Editors: Alison Amron, Christopher Seward
Music: M.E. Manning
Not rated, 97 mins.