Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competative Eating (US - DVD R1)
Gabe is so full he couldn't possibly eat another bite... well, maybe one more...
Crazy Legs Conti is an eccentric New York City window washer, nude model, sperm donor, and a huge fan of the Nathan's Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest. When he casually breaks the world oyster eating record in New Orleans, Crazy Legs decides to dedicate himself to fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a professional competitive eater.
There are few things in this world I find more revolting than competitive eating. It's a mix of my hate for watching people eat (when working with children lunch is Hell), and how much I personally dislike the feeling of being over full. I don't hate the people that do it, and I get why it's popular, but I hate watching it. The only thing I hate more than watching people eat is watching people 'un-eat', or vomit as other's may call it. "Urge contrary to swallowing" is the technical term.
Watching the genuinely charming Crazy Legs do his thing was a bit of an endurance test. The bits of film where people aren't filling their faces are pretty great though. Like other films about more unknown, erm, sports and subcultures, Crazy Legs Conti is at its best when it focuses on the less obvious stuff. We all know the point of eating contest is eating a lot, but most of us probably don't understand the technique. Like other, cough, sports, there are all stars and rivalries. This mix of insight and drama makes for a fun time at the movies.
Crazy Legs Conti isn't quite the kind of thing that enthralled me to the point of obsession I was hoping for, but it rarely drags, and real life underdog stories are always worth a bit of spare time. The film lives and dies with its concept. If you cherish the thought of watching people eat as much as they can as quickly as they can, and getting to know one of these competitors, then you'll like the film. It's pretty much as simple as that.
This isn't a big budget flick, or even a medium budget documentary, it's a low-budget piece of guerilla work. There's no pretension here, no widescreen framing or orchestrated shots, just a camera pointed at the action of real life professional eating. The transfer looks as good as we can expect a non-HD documentary with humble aspirations. It's clean except for the digital noise, which is rather prevalent. Colours are only as strong as their lighting, and blacks are slightly lacking in richness. Not great, but of no fault of Blue Underground.
The sound matches the video in unimpressiveness. The sole Dolby Surround track is a slightly spruced up mono track, and no more is needed. I could understand what the people were saying, and the occasional music is lively and crisp. The soundtrack matches Conti's personality, but may have been more interesting had it played against him. Just an idea.
The disc's commentary track features producers/directors Chris Kenneally and Danielle Franco with the star. Conti isn't only a charming and reasonably eloquent man, but he's a decent interviewer, and asks the filmmakers just as many questions as they ask him. The track is as laid back as the film, and similarly absurd. Very entertaining.
The rest of the extras are separated into cute little subsections. 'Leftovers' features six deleted scenes, all with commentary. The scenes aren't super important to the film, but considering the really short runtime of the final film they probably could've been left in (especially the scene where Conti is forced to go to a shrink to be sure he isn't a totally self-destructive monster). 'Snacks' is a selection of three featurettes. The first is a post film tour of Conti's house, and two publicity stunts that were held to get the film attention. They all come complete with commentary as well. 'Eat NYC' features Conti giving four eating tours of eateries in New York City. The clever titles end with 'Desserts'. This section has three featurettes seemingly made to entertain the filmmakers and Conti's friends, and include a fake variety show with Conti's friend Little Jimmy, a photo montage of the sport set to a rap song by one of the eaters, and a short day in the life of Conti's musician friend Dinshaw.
The disc's other feature 'Taste-o-vision' is part of the commentary. Viewers are given a list of the foods Conti eats, and are instructed by the commentators to eat the appropriate food pictured on screen. Not really an extra as much as an altered drinking game.
Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating is quite the lark, and a scrappy little film. It's no Oscar contender, but it'll put a grin on your face and a turn in you stomach in equal parts. Fans of the sport (I'll stop with the quips about the sport's standing, I feel a little bad about it) will enjoy the trip, and the curious will be entertained by the gastrointestinal circus.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 24th July 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Commentary, Left Overs, Snacks, Dessert, Eat NYC
Easter Egg: No
Director: Danielle Franco, Chris Kenneally
Cast: Crazy Legs Conti, Takeru Kobayashi
Length: 72 minutes
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