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Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating (2004)

  Directed by: Danielle Franco, Christopher Kenneally
Starring: Crazy Legs Conti, Takeru Kobayashi
Links: Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Documentary

This movie gets: 5.00 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 153rd of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"I'm full" - a review by andy-j

I'm always a little suspicious of people who give themselves a stupid name such as "Hotdogs" or "Crazy Legs" for no good reason, especially when they have a perfectly respectable first name to begin with. Jason Crazy Legs Conti, the focus of this documentary, is one such character. He meanders through life, with no aspirations other than to have as much fun as he can, while doing as little as possible. He stumbles into the world of competitive eating, quickly establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to oysters, but then moving into the more lucrative world of competitive hotdog eating. Along the way, he flirts with the concept of eating large volumes of butter, has a few laughs, and, doubtless, makes a few people throw up.

Crazy Legs, while initially unlikeable, did eventually start to grow on me. My initial thoughts of him were pretty much that this guy was a total bum, a slob, and a deadbeat. But once I got to know him a bit better, I appreciated the fact that he was happy with what he was doing. He has lots of support, lots of good people around him, he is harmless, and he genuinely enjoys himself. Not the way I'd choose to live or anything, but good for him, I suppose. Crazy Legs gives us a running narrative through the whole thing which helps us warm to him somewhat. It is obviously pre-written, which does take some of the edge off it, but it is generally pretty good and at least gives the whole thing some sort of structure.

This documentary is very loose. Although it is somewhat entertaining, the focus is wrong and the pacing is all over the place. For example, as he is about to compete in the oyster eatathon, we are shown this long, drawn out scene where Conti is waiting by a tree, gathering his thoughts and talking with some friends. Then suddenly, the competition has started, and it's like we're playing catch-up. It didn't sit well with me - there is no sense of tension or build-up. The whole thing plays like this. It just seems to amble along and it really starts to drag.

The real problem, though, is that the focus is on the wrong person. In the world of competitive hotdog eating, there is one man who stands above all others. This man not only has won the last three hotdog eating competitions, he has won by an absolute landslide, eating twice as much as any other competitor. And he weighs half as much as any of his competitors. I'm talkin' about the 120-odd pound monster that is Takeru Kobayashi, an eater from Japan. Crazy Legs worships him, studies him, and trembles in his presence. We know very little about him, and as an audience, we are far more interested in Kobayashi than that Conti slob. Give us a documentary about him instead!

andy-j gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 10 Nov 2005

"BYO Sick Bag" - a review by pearly

Competitive eating would have to be about the most disgusting "sporting" competition there is. In the States, it's big enough and taken seriously enough to warrant its own Federation: the International Federation of Competitive Eating. And America is also where Crazy Legs Conti hails from - a fan of the sport who decides to become a competitor, almost by accident.

Conti begins with oysters - aiming to break the record at an oyster bar and get his feed for free, which he must do by consuming 34 dozen oysters in one sitting. When he manages this, he begins to think that perhaps he is cut out for the competitive eating circuit, and, much to the amusement and horror of his friends and flatmate, he begins training for more serious oyster eating comps, and then on to others - with his big aim being to make it to the annual 4th of July hotdog eating contest in Coney Island.

This documentary, which chronicles Conti's attempts, is a rather relaxed affair. It is very much fly-on-the-wall, with the only exception being the consistent cuts to a staged interview with Conti, wherein he waxes lyrical about his passion for competitive eating. I personally found the subject matter interesting for about 15 minutes, and then I began to get bored with the whole thing. Conti is not a particularly likeable person: he's sexist, and he's of the opinion that competitive eating is the answer to all of his prayers, which is a little sickening. But more than this, the seriousness with which he takes everything to do with the subject basically turned me off. While the commitment of the young kids and their parents in Spellbound (2002) was intriguing, this same commitment to competitive eating was a real turn-off, and I couldn't take it seriously at all. Which, I guess, you as the viewer was not always supposed to, but I found that I couldn't laugh with him, and I couldn't laugh at him, I was just grossed out by it all. And by that, I don't mean that the sight of it all was too icky for me, I just mean that the whole prospect of the thing didn't appeal.

Another thing that bothered me about the documentary was that, with its focus supposedly on Conti, it often seemed as though the real star of the show was Takeru Kobayashi, a competitive eater from Japan who is actually amazingly good (if you can call what he does good) at what he does. Where Conti's big triumph was to get through 14 or so hotdogs in an allotted 12 minute timeframe, Kobayashi manages to crack the 50 mark in the same time. Truly jaw-droppingly, disgustingly amazing that someone with such a tiny frame can actually fit that many hotdogs inside him, let alone putting them all in during such a restricted time. With him being the master of the circuit, and the darling child of the I.F.O.C.E., why is a documentary being made about this lame Conti clown? That's the way it felt to me, anyway.

Something stuck in my throat with this documentary, and I didn't enjoy it all that much. The filmmakers have tried to latch onto the success of some of the more recent and similar documentaries out there, but unfortunately, for me, it didn't work.

pearly gives this movie 4 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 3 Aug 2005

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 5.00
Lowest rating: 4 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 6 (by andy-j)
 
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Reader comments

  1. Good Service

    A comment from Frank Johnson on Wed 14 Dec 2005 20:50 #


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