Monday, August 18, 2008
#50: King Corn
Directed by Aaron Woolf
Written by Aaron Woolf, Ian Cheney, Curtis Ellis and Jeffrey K. Miller
Just a little bizarre trivia note before I kick off the synopsis: when you type King Corn into a search on the Internet Movie Database, the first link that comes up is not to this movie, but rather to porn legend Ron "The Hedgehog" Jeremy. I don't even want to know why.
Unfortunately, that may be the most interesting thing I have to present in this review.
King Corn is a 2007 documentary about farming, the corn industry and the effect that the prevalent use of the little yellow grain has had on our diets, our economy and our landscape. While the premise behind it -- two college friends return to the small Iowa town where both had distant relatives in the corn industry to grow their own acre of corn -- is original, it's a stunt that doesn't completely pay off.
Part of the problem is that the subject matter doesn't exactly lend itself to the kind of homegrown, aw-shucks, wanna-be-funny documentary these guys are trying to make. To be quite honest, I don't give a shit about the acre of corn they're growing. Frankly, I don't give a shit about them, either. If you're going to pick a topic that walks on the borderline of boredom like corn, step it up a little, do your homework, and present me with some more information in a more timely manner. Quit messing around in the frozen field with the wiffle ball bat (these guys are so green they move to Iowa in January to start their crop) and shock me, for Christ's sake!
I know, I'm overreacting a little bit. King Corn was made with the best of intentions. It's just that if you're going to go through all the trouble to make a movie and talk about important issues like the dangers of high fructose corn syrup or the disastrous effect that commercial farming has had on the family farm, I'd rather you didn't waste time wandering around in a field pretending to be completely naive about a topic you obviously care about deeply. Shit, The King of Kong was just a documentary about two nerds battling for a high score in Donkey Kong, and yet it had more dramatic tension in its opening credits than you fit into this entire movie. Seriously, go rent that movie; that is how you make a documentary out of a subject that could have been completely boring.
If I may examine my own project for a moment, I must admit that it is movies like this -- the ones that fill me with neither love nor rage -- that are the hardest to write about. It has taken me HOURS to spit out this horrible review. It proves to me yet again that I'd rather watch a bad movie than a boring one.
For more on King Corn:
- Movie information at IMDB and Wikipedia
- Buy the DVD from the official site
The official trailer from YouTube: