King Corn


Action / Documentary

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh96%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright78%
IMDb Rating7.0102031

agricultureiowafarmingfood industrycorn

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN


Top cast

827.65 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 30 min
P/S 0 / 4

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by TedStixonAKAMaximumMadness8 / 10

"King Corn" is a fun (and disturbing) look at Corn, and how it affects the world... negatively.

The film "King Corn" is a strong piece of cinema. It gives us a deep look at corn. Yes, corn. Many might think that something as simple as corn can hold no real relevance to the world, or any of its people. This film proves otherwise.

It follows Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, as they are followed by director Aaron Woolf and his crew. After a scientist analyzes hair samples from both men, they find something pretty startling- their hair is made of corn? (Well, not exactly. But it's in there.) They go on an odyssey, traveling to Iowa, in order to grow an acre of corn their own, and trace it from first being planted, through its growth, to the harvest, and finally, to how it's processed… and how it ends up in our hair.

The film is remarkable in its accessibility. Both of the lead on-screen talent are very engaging and likable. The film also tends to shy away from putting its foot down in the matter. It doesn't say "This is good" or "This is bad", or "blame this person or that organization" it merely presents the evidence and the reaction of Cheney and Ellis to said evidence and the situations that occur. It remains in the middle to an extent, and while it does present the modern corn industry in a negative light (rightfully so, I might add),it isn't too preachy about it. In addition, the filmmakers really try to make the documentary easy to watch and to comprehend, using simple tactics and design to illustrate some of the more abstract points, especially the political jargon and dealings that are brought up. Graphs and stop-motion animation are used to drive home these tough-to-understand concepts in a unique way. When talking about how political farming programs help larger farms grow and can negatively affect smaller farms, rather than seeing something as complex as the talk going on, we see stop-motion-animated Fisher Price toys scurrying about, visually representing what the narration is explaining. It was endearing, and actually quite effective in driving the point home. Quite brilliant, and without spoiling anything, especially touching when a poignant scene later on adds relevance to these stop-motion images.

The film also takes a hard look at the negative side of some of the impacts and bi-products of the corn industry. It does show us how government farming programs encourage the mass production of corn by industrial farms. The sheer scope of this industry rewards the larger industrial farms, but over time seems to phase out and eliminate smaller farms, in essence nearly destroying the classical image of the family farm. It is also explained that corn isn't just used for consumption by humans- it's used for other purposes, such as feeding livestock that will eventually be slaughtered for consumption. However, the corn-based feed negatively impacts the farm animals, who aren't "built" to consume such foods, and harms the value of the meat, by dramatically increasing the fat content. Corn is also used for making artificial sweeteners (such as the infamous High Fructose Corn Syrup, which holds virtually no nutritional value),which are used as a sugar substitute in many different foods. The sheer volume of High Fructose Corn Syrup, while making foods cheaper, is arguably also poisoning people. It's financial perks are matched or even outweighed by the health problems it can cause. The parts of the film dealing with HFCS are deeply troubling. I find it hard to stomach that this topic doesn't get more coverage than it already does- our cheaper foods are killing us.

For all that "King Corn" does properly, the film does do some wrong, though. It could be argued that a large portion of the movie is a moot point and ultimately pointless in the end- and that is Ellis and Cheney's growing of the acre of corn. While it was a nice statement and image, it is revealed that tracking their corn is a fruitless effort- it can not be tracked due to the sheer volume of corn harvested and processed. And so, Ellis and Cheney are left to mathematically figure out what likely happened to their corn. (They likely knew up front before planting that the corn would be untraceable, it seems unfathomable that they wouldn't have known) While seeing them grow their corn was interesting, the fact of the matter is, it could have been cut down somewhat (I would argue it is important enough to keep in the film, but at least five minutes could have been trimmed from the segments involving their planting, caring for and ultimately harvesting the plants),and the spare time used to further educate the audience on the subject. It just felt like a failed potential to myself.

Also, the film does hit a few moments where everything dulls down for a couple minutes, and it drags on, but then again, this seems to happen with most documentaries I've seen, so I can forgive it.

But these errors really don't detract much, they're more nit-picks from me, on how I would've changed the movie, and I will say, they didn't really affect my love for everything else. I adored this documentary!

I felt "King Corn" was a great educational piece. It teaches much, and is also a fun experience. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Reviewed by strong-122-4788854 / 10

A Corn-Fed Documentary Of The Corniest Kind

So, guess what cornstarch, corn syrup, and, yes, America's massive, fast-food industry all have in direct connection with each other? (Believe me, the answer to that question should be pretty obvious to most thinking viewers)

To be honest - It wasn't this documentary's subject matter (which certainly held some noteworthy potential) that this viewer found to be supremely dull and forgettable - No - It was, above all else, King Corn's pedestrian presentation and the lacklustre personalities of its 2 producers/stars (who injected themselves into the story) that promptly lost some serious points for this real-life investigation into fast-food's #1 ingredient.

To say that King Corn could have been a helluva lot better, on all counts, would truly be an understatement of the highest order.

By the time that King Corn's producers, Ian Cheney & Curt Ellis, had made their monumental revelation about corn and its connection with fast-food, this bored viewer had already figured things out for himself and had lost significant interest in this tired documentary well within the first 30 of its 90-minute running time.

Reviewed by DeeNine-210 / 10

Low key but very revealing and interesting

In this interesting and informative documentary two young men, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, return from the east coast to the Iowa farm country of their ancestors in order to find out what it is like to be a corn farmer in America. Their plan is to plant an acre of corn and follow that corn to market and see what happens. They want to know what life is like for the farmers and they want to know how the corn is processed and eventually consumed. What they find out is mixed.

They learn about the high yields that are possible today with the variety of corn that dominates corn production in this country. This plant has the property of being able to grow close to others of its kind, thereby increasing the number of plants per acre. This is good no doubt. However this variety of corn while ideal for the making of high fructose corn syrup and ethanol is lower in other nutrients such as protein and oil. For my perspective this too is okay. If that is what sells, the farmer really doesn't have much choice.

But what is disturbing about the corn farming and processing business are the subsidies that go to big agriculture and the consolidation that has taken place turning small farms into huge farms. Monoculture is a disease of the land. If more small farmers were able to make a living planting different varieties of crops people would eat better and healthier.

Cheney and Ellis also learn that much of the corn is used to fatten cattle. The natural diet of cattle is grass. Fattening them with nothing but corn makes them sick, but not sick enough to die before being slaughtered for the market.

They also learn (if they hadn't already known it) that corn is in an amazing number of the processed foods in the supermarkets and is the basis of McDonald happy meals. In other words king corn is instrumental in fostering and abetting the obesity epidemic.

The documentary is fascinating because it shows the exact details of how planting, weeding (chemically),fertilizing, harvesting and marketing of the corn is done. There are conversations with farmers and others and the famous food writer Michael Pollan makes an appearance.

This is not a documentary that is going to please the corn industry, but it is not a polemic either. I thought it was fair and accurate as far as I know. I am on the side of more diversified farming organically, but I know that feeding the seven plus billion people on this planet isn't possible without mass agricultural methods such as seen in this video. The fact that our government insists on subsidizing a relatively unhealthy diet based on genetically modified corn and soy is the main culprit. If there were subsidies for farmers to plant a wider variety of crops using organic methods that would improve our diet and allow for sustainable agriculture. The problem with this is we would need a larger percent of the population to farm.

—Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"

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