September 2011 Featured Filmmaker Joe Cross

Editor’s Note: Along similar lines, you may want to check out Forks Over Knives. I haven’t watched it, but my daughter really liked that one.

Trust Movies Who’s Joe Cross? Among other things, he’s the co-director, (with Kurt Engfehr), producer, star and subject of the new documentary FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD. Does this sound like a vanity production? Maybe. But how vain is it to show a gut like Mr. Cross bore, just previous to beginning his 60-day, Sydney-to-New York and then cross-country, vegetable-juice “fast”?

Joe Cross' Debut Film is an Invitation to Everyone to Reboot Our Lives
Joe Cross' Debut Film is an Invitation to Everyone to Reboot Our Lives

That was some gut, and we see all of it at the beginning of this tell-all confession that comes off like a non-stop commercial for a diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans. Maybe it is that commercial. If so, Trust Movies would still like to buy in.

They say that there are none more committed than the recently converted. And at times, this film comes awfully close to a kind of religious revival — with vegetable juice playing the role usually given to Jesus, Moses, Buddha or Muhammad. Yet so convincingly does this story — two stories, really — play itself out, that I think you won’t mind at all being “preached to” by a fellow as funny, charming and, yes, “real” as Mr. Cross. (A propos the end of the above paragraph: the filmmaker/star does have his own company devoted to a vegetable-and-fruit juice lifestyle that anyone of the heavy-set persuasion might want to try. Called Reboot Your Life, it’s accessible via the click of your mouse.)

Access Joe’s customized step-by-step programs. Reboot Your Life has developed three programs that service different lifestyles and different needs. Joe and his friends will prepare you for life before, during and after a Reboot.

Joel Fuhrman M.D. is a board-certified family physician, nutrition researcher, best-selling author, and one of the country’s leading nutritional medicine experts. Dr. Fuhrman is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and he is presently involved in research trials of his nutrient-rich, plant-based diet with physicians and scientists at the University of Pennsylvania health system.

Joe Discussing the Value of Raw Food with His Nutritionist, Dr. Fuhrman
Joe Discussing the Value of Raw Food with His Nutritionist, Dr. Fuhrman

“Every night I set an alarm clock. Some mornings before the alarm goes off, I spring out of bed with an abundance of energy ready to take on the day ahead. Other mornings I just want to roll over, and hit the snooze button. This morning I hit the snooze button. There was no rhyme or reason to it, I grabbed another hour and sacrificed a visit to the gym. A visit I had promised myself the night before that I would make. Some days I live up to that promise, but most days I don’t. I used to beat myself up for breaking that promise. I’d feel guilty, feel like a failure. Before I’d even had a shower, I would already have a negative outlook on my day. Not anymore.

Joe Cross Chatting with a Farmer About the Importance of Micronutrients to Our Diets
Joe Cross Chatting with a Farmer About the Importance of Micronutrients to Our Diets

Now I place far more emphasis on what goes into my system. What I eat and drink. How it was prepared. How old it is or more importantly how fresh it is. How colorful is it. I’m not talking about artificial color, real color, the kind mother nature dishes up for us. I don’t have a bad word to say about exercise and I am all for it. I understand just how important it is and I wish I was able to be as excited about it before my workout as I am when I’m finished my workout. My goal has less to do with how I look and more to do with how I feel. I am on a quest for wellness and a life that is medication free and healthy. To accomplish that each day the investment I make is in Fruit and Vegetables.” Joe Cross, March 11, 2011, Huff Post

SYNOPSIS OF THE FILM

100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310lb man whose gut was bigger than a beach ball and a path laid out before him that wouldn’t end well— with one foot already in the grave, the other wasn’t far behind. FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health.

With doctors and conventional medicines unable to help long- term, Joe turns to the only option left, the body’s ability to heal itself. He trades in the junk food and hits the road with juicer and generator in tow, vowing only to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for the next 60 days. Across 3,000 miles Joe has one goal in mind: To get off his pills and achieve a balanced lifestyle.

While talking to more than 500 Americans about food, health and longevity, it’s at a truck stop in Arizona where Joe meets a truck driver who suffers from the same rare condition. Phil Staples is morbidly obese weighing in at 429 lbs; a cheeseburger away from a heart-attack. As Joe is recovering his health, Phil begins his own epic journey to get well.

What emerges is nothing short of amazing – an inspiring tale of healing and human connection.
Part road trip, part self-help manifesto, FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD defies the traditional documentary format to present an unconventional and uplifting story of two men from different worlds who each realize that the only person who can save them is themselves.

ToTo Joe Cross may have an Aussie accent, but he has an All-American gut. Or, at least he did before embracing a juice-heavy diet.

“Tell me about the growth of the film since its initial release – how have audiences been able to see the movie, and which platform has been the most popular?” Read the interview at ToTo

Joe Cross Rebooted His Health and Claims You Can Too!
Joe Cross Rebooted His Health By Juicing and Claims You Can Too!

His physical transformation, like a reverse “Super Size Me,” is the heart of a new documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.” The film takes the Michael Moore/Morgan Spurlock approach, letting Cross’ personality power the narrative.

He’s a likable bloke with a sensible message the masses could stand to hear. “Fat,” available via Video on Demand services starting April 1 as well as select theaters, veers into infomercial land a mite too often. Cross extols the virtues of fasting without really breaking down the consequences or letting any skeptics have their say. But there’s enough humanity between the juicings to make the movie a nutritious ride.

Cross, who co-directed the film, is staring down more than just an eating problem as the film opens. He suffers from a rare auto-immune disorder which could cut his life short if he continues eating to excess. So he takes drastic measures. He decides to go on a 60-day juice-only fast to lose weight and take some control over his life.

It works – and then some. He stops taking the myriad pills meant to keep him healthy and watches his body slim down in remarkable fashion. When he meets a heavyset American suffering from the same disorder, the two team up to prove the wonders of a juice diet.

“Fat” leans heavily on Cross’ no-nonsense persona and a smattering of sharply executed animated bits. He’s not the ruffled Everyman like Moore claims to be, and he’s far less of a jokester than Spurlock. He’s serious about his mission, but he’s also genial enough to make others open up about their own weight issues. Cross’ “man on the street” interviews feel precious at first, but when he bears down gently on his subjects some frank answers emerge about why so many people lug around so many excess pounds.

Joe Cross Connects with Trucker Phil and Inspires Him to Reboot His Life
Joe Cross Connects with Trucker Phil and Inspires Him to Reboot His Life

“I’m here for a few good years, and I’m gonna eat what I want,” one person tells Cross.

Cross and co. clearly support the juicing method for better health, and some sequences feel like contrived advertisements for the plan. But Cross doesn’t always sugarcoat its appeal. When a housewife goes on the juice fast for 10 days she admits the juice doesn’t taste very good and that’s she’s initially starving without her three regular meals to fill her stomach.

The film’s heavy-handed message is blunted by its clarion call for personal responsibility, a reasonable antidote to any proselytizing going on.

“Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know. Eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods. Start moving and stop the excuses. But by putting a human face on our eating woes it could change a few hearts, minds and stomachs.

FILMAKERS

JOE CROSS (Director/Executive Producer), KURT ENGFEHR (Director), STACEY OFFMAN (Producer), CHRISTOPHER SEWARD (Editor/Co-Producer), ALISON AMRON (Editor/Co-Producer), JOHN MILLER-MONZON (Co-Producer), ROBERT MAC (Executive Producer), SHANE HODSON (Executive Producer), JAMIN MENDELSOHN (Production Manager), KAREN PELLAND (Associate/Field Producer).

 

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