Joe Cross is not a professional filmmaker, in fact he was a successful trader turned entrepreneur who rewarded himself for his prosperity over the years with a cavalcade of pizza, burgers, soda, and booze. By the time he was 40 years old he was 100 lbs overweight, and was suffering a debilitating autoimmune disease – which he cared for with a chemist's pantry full of pills. Cross’s documentary film, "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead," chronicles his quest to reverse this deadly lifestyle and see if the human body, void of processed foods and animal products, can actually heal itself. He would do this by drinking juice, just juice, every day, for 60 days. Since any road trip, for any reason, across America with video camera in hand lends itself to voyeuristic entertainment, Joe dragged all 309 lbs of him to New York City to start his journey. His mission was to lose weight initially through this radical, 60 day vegetable and fruit juice fast, all the while talking to overweight Americans from the cities to the heartland.
For two months he used a high-powered juicer to turn his fresh fruits and vegetables into a green, formidable-looking, health Slurpee that most tasters deemed, "Not bad." Along the way Joe talked to hundreds of obese Americans straight out of Central Casting who were starkly honest about their poor health, curtailed longevity, and immovable penchant for fried foods. Almost to a person they blamed their frightening girth exclusively on...themselves.
As much as it was entertaining, and inspiring, to watch an affable Aussie lose 100 lbs criss-crossing America drinking nothing but juice, it is one of the converts he meets in his travels who is the true star of this film. When Joe Cross meets a 429 lb trucker, Phil, who coincidentally suffers from the same autoimmune system, he hears from Phil much of what he has from all the others throughout this journey: Yeah, I'm grossly overweight. I'm always tired and in pain. I'm ashamed. I only blame myself. I love food too much. I wish I could change.
Joe takes Phil, who was a hamburger away from a heart attack, under his wing, and through sheer self-discipline, Phil agrees to go 10 days drinking only juice from fresh vegetables and fruits. He likes what he sees and how he feels, and he agrees to go another 20 days. Then, like an unstoppable, ever thinning avalanche, Phil continues this awe-inspiring journey, helping many others along the way. It was powerful stuff, void of group-hugs and tears that was stirring and motivational.
"Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" does not uncover any new secrets to weight loss, but it clearly showcases the shocking results of detoxifying and "retooling" your body, and the incredible way it changed lives through entertaining common sense.