DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Crazy Legs Conti as HIMSELF

    Studio: Blue Underground

    Directed by: Danielle Franco and Chris Kenneally
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Iíve never considered myself much of an athlete. Sure, I wrestled in high school, and I tried my hand at track and field. But when you find yourself in your adult life making money by watching movies and telling people what you think about them, you just have to accept the fact that thereís no way youíre going to be a great sports legend.

However, I have found a sport that Iím relatively good at. Iím not at the top of the game, but Iím good enough to be ranked by the major league organization running things. That sport is competitive eating, and yes, I am completely serious.

I started my competitive eating journey only three years ago with a chicken wings contest in Cleveland, Ohio. The first thing that I noticed about the other folks at the table was their personalities. While competitive eating never has (and quite possible never will be) taken too seriously by the mainstream, thereís no doubt that its participants make great celebrities.

The one man who stood out at the Cleveland wing contest was a tall lanky white dude with dreadlocks and a funny hat. This was my first introduction to Crazy Legs Conti. Over the years, having seen him at various contests around the country, Iíve grown to know him well.

However, I hadnít yet seen his film ďCrazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating.Ē It had been broadcast on cable, but I never got the DVR in time to auto-program it. Now the feature is available on DVD, complete with, as Conti has said, ďa plethora of a buffet of special features.Ē

The film chronicles Contiís rise from a rabid fan of the sport (he claims to have moved to New York to watch fat guys eat hot dogs) to a giant in the game. He is currently ranked 11th in the world by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE), and he has made it to the Nathanís table several times over the past five years.

As an insider to the sport, I know how things roll now. There is usually significant prize money available, scaling down to as far as tenth place. Eaters like Joey Chestnut and Pat Bertoletti are posting numbers that seemed unreachable only a few years ago.

ďZen and the Art of Competitive EatingĒ gives us an intriguing snapshot in the past, when the sport was still young. The show follows Conti from his title bout for oysters in New Orleans to the Nathanís finals on the Fourth of July, 2002. Itís also a biopic of the man behind the dreadlocks and funny hats.

What I found most amazing about this film was how much things have changed over a few short years. Badlands Booker is presented as the American hot dog record holder with 28 HDBs (i.e., hot dogs and buns). This isnít bad at all, but itís nothing compared to Joey Chestnutís record of 66 HDBs set just this year.

I also found it amazing that George and Rich Shea, who run the IFOCE, had to woo Conti to a Nathanís qualifier in Seattle. Nowadays, rookie and veteran eaters alike practically have club one another in the knee to secure a spot in the qualifiers. My, oh my, how the world has changed.

This film is a must-see for fans of competitive eating, and itís a great thing to watch for the uninitiated. Conti has an overabundance of charisma, and his energy propels the film to its star-studded conclusion.

The special features include a commentary track, deleted scenes, taste-o-vision and a tour of Contiís apartment where Tim ďEater XĒ Janus helps him dunk some girls wearing hot dog halter tops and burger bikinis.

Mmmmm... Iím getting hungry just thinking about it.

Specifications: Dolby Digital Sound. Full frame (1.33:1). Spanish language track.

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