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Million Calorie March

Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 10/03/07 12:39:55

"Nice enough."
3 stars (Average)

SCREENED AT THE 2007 BOSTON FILM FESTIVAL: The subject that inspired Gary Marino's "Million Calorie March" - both the documentary and the event itself - is certainly worth the audience's attention; adult and child obesity is a major problem in the United States. As a movie, though, it falls into the unfortunate trap of meeting modest expectations: Gary's trek was neither a rousing success nor a catastrophic failure, so the movie winds up feeling something like a vanity project.

The event of the title is Gary's eighty-day walk from Jacksonvlle, Florida to Boston, Massachusetts, to raise money and attention for the cause of fighting obesity in general and his "Project Excel" foundation in particular. He would walk about fifteen miles in a day, with his partners trailing him in an RV meant to serve as his headquarters and rest stop, with stops along the way to give speeches and interviews. Live with Regis & Kelly covers the kickoff and he's scheduled to make a stop there when he arrives in New York, and he meets some people along the way.

And, basically, that's what happens. There are some hiccups along the way - the RV gets banged up on one of the first days, he has some pain in his feet, and the amount of money raised during the trek is not that impressive. There's basically zero drama; the RV getting its roof torn up just means they stay in motels more than campgrounds, which doesn't turn into a critical drain on their budget. We're told that Gary and the trip's co-ordinator are butting heads, but we don't see it that much.

Gary does meet some nice folks along the way, and that's usually a nice bit. Gary's a friendly guy and the people he meets in the street at least seem to be taking his message seriously. He's also a good public speaker, so the stops he makes to lecture about obesity, food addiction, an the problems that come with it (diabetes, sleep apnea) look like they may get through.

There's also some staged bits in the beginning that work less well; he recreates the moment at the doctor's office where he learned that his weight had reached 397 pounds, but sort of glosses over the exact methods he used to get back down to a little more than half that. There's also some cringe-worthy moments as he shows the roots of his food addiction as a kid in some scenes. The bits about what he's done since at the end aren't bad.

Gary Marino doing this walk is a nice little story. In the hands of an exceptional filmmaker, it could maybe have become more; as it stands, it's just okay.

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