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Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead Confused Me

December 1, 2011

Somewhere along the way I must have missed the memo when they gave every Tom, Dick and Harry with a half-baked idea and a decent camera the divine right to produce a documentary.

So, at this juncture I’d like to pitch any willing investors on what promises to be the most compelling tale of human connection ever filmed.
“Watch as we chronicle the daily hilarity, led by a loud, annoying middle-aged woman who never amounted to much. Her joys, her sorrows, her embarrassing habits… all laid bare for the audience to see…”

My phone is already ringing off the hook.

Anyway, I can find no other explanation for Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, a documentary about a seemingly-normal-looking guy who doesn’t feel really well.

Ok, I’m being harsh.

In reality, Joe was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that was destroying his health and his life, so he decided to do something about it!
This life change involved packing up a juicer and going on the road.


*crickets chirping*

Let me say right now that when I read the synopsis for this film I was expecting some sort of epic fat-guy-meets-The Hangover-mixed-with-Ishtar film. A real road movie.

What I felt I got fell just a little short of my sick, little expectations.

While it’s not unusual for things like this to disappoint me, I DO expect for them to make some sort of sense.

I know that on the inside I am quietly applauding Joe for going out and speaking to people about the body’s ability to heal itself, and what a wonderful and awe-inspiring epiphany he had. But I didn’t think Joe’s weight had all that much to do with some of the things that were plaguing him.

While he travels, he meets a delightful fellow named Joe, and soon enough he’s on the bandwagon and headed down a healthy path right behind our hero.


Look, it’s not that I don’t love a good road trip flick or a success story, but I was cranky, it was late and it seemed totally unrealistic to subsist on juice for that amount of time.

So, I promise to rewatch what might have been a sweet, little feel-good film about life-affirming changes when I’m not suffering from Acerbic Annie syndrome.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2011 4:25 pm

    And let’s just take a moment to appreciate the movie poster.


    What the fuck is this, auto-cannibalism? No wonder he lost weight.

    The other image I see is him pissing green into a cup that he’s smilingly going to drink.

    As a visual presentation, this ain’t selling me on Joe Cross films.

    I think I’m gonna have to watch this now. 🙂


    • dufmanno permalink
      December 1, 2011 7:37 pm

      Also it might have been beneficial if I could have managed to remember the name of the guy he met was PHIL and not JOE. This one is full of crazy and originally I thought it was because I hadn’t had enough coffee.

  2. vesta44 permalink
    December 1, 2011 4:27 pm

    Yeah, I went and looked at the description of the movie – first of all, it says he’s loaded up on steroids because of this “rare” disease. Okay, from what I know of my own personal experience with steroids, they’ll make you gain weight if you’re on them for an extended period of time. Second, just exactly what is this so “rare” disease and what are the odds that he would meet a truck driver with the exact same disease while on his journey? Third, if he quit taking the steroids, of course he’s going to lose the weight he gained while he was on them, and living on nothing but juice that he made himself, with no bread, no pasta, no meat, etc – yeah, that’s going to help him lose weight too. Sorry Joe, come back in 5 years and tell me how well that’s working for keeping the weight off and “curing” your “rare” disease. Color me skeptically cynical, but I think this documovie is full of feel-good propaganda.

    • dufmanno permalink
      December 1, 2011 7:38 pm

      I was having a hard time getting to the heart of the matter here. I can never quite get why going on the road was necessary. Also, juicers are REALLY expensive. Why?

    • May 27, 2012 3:39 pm

      Here’s your five years later follow up.

      • vesta44 permalink
        May 27, 2012 4:19 pm

        Jeffrey Jay – Um no, it’s not 5 years, it’s 4 years, if you had listened to the whole thing, you’d have heard him say it was 4 years ago that he started this. So yeah, close, but no cigar.

      • May 27, 2012 10:45 pm

        A few notes. First, Joe Cross has a vested financial interest in staying thin because this is just another one of his enterprises. If Joe Cross gains weight, his Reboot theory is essentially debunked. But Joe is a millionaire and can afford (like most movie stars whose careers depend upon staying thin) to invest in his body the way he does. What is noticeably absent from this four minute interview is any mention of his guinea pig Phil.

        Interestingly, a few months back I interviewed Joe Cross and learned about Phil’s current state, which is not quite as impressive as Joe’s. I’ve held off on publishing the interview, but you’ve inspired me to begin work on it. Thanks a lot!

        And welcome to Fierce Fatties.


  3. Kala permalink
    December 1, 2011 4:55 pm

    I read the description on IMDB,and I’m seriously confused.

    So he’s got some rare auto-immune disorder, and is also fat. He decides to only drink pureed fruits and vegetables for 60 days (isn’t that almost a starvation diet, unless you’re drinking like gallons of it?). He loses weight, and feels better? Ok, I can believe that, if he had like super Crohn’s disease, I could totally see where changing his diet may make him feel better. And like vesta said, getting of those steroids probably helped with the weight loss. Feeling better and then moving more because of it may have caused the weight loss. Maybe he just lost a ton of weight because he ate 1000 calories a day of smoothies, and will gain it all back eating normally because he is genetically predisposed to being heavier?

    The I see this, about his random trucker friend:

    “While talking to more than 500 Americans about food, health and longevity, it’s at a truck stop in Arizona where Joe meets a truck driver who suffers from the same rare condition. Phil Staples is morbidly obese weighing in at 429 lbs; a cheeseburger away from a heart-attack.”

    This is where it makes no sense. According to this Joe guy, he’s fat because of an autoimmune condition. But this other guy Phil, is fat because of cheeseburgers and probably being too sedentary as a truck driver. That’s probably true. If I sat down all day and ate a lot of crap, I’d think I could get quite large. But where does Phil’s autoimmune disorder play into it? Is he like double fat? Fat once for the sedentary and crap food, and then double fat for the autoimmune disorder? Maybe he’s triple fat, and also large because of genetics? Either way, I don’t see how Phil and Joe have similar stories, unless the cheeseburger crack was just snark, and the guy is simply large due to a medical complication. Is Phil also going to lose a ton of weight, we’d guess that would be a goal, because the summary makes a specific point to mention his weight and that he is classified as morbidly obese.

    I don’t know if the documentary makes any more sense than this, but the official summary certainly seems to make very little.

    What’s the take away? That I can heal myself? That being fat and sick are correlated? That drinking only juice makes you lose weight and get less sick? In terms of healing oneself, it can be true, but often it’s not, but I guess it’s nice that it worked out for him during the span of the documentary.

    • dufmanno permalink
      December 1, 2011 7:39 pm

      I thought the part about meeting Phil at the truck stop was mildly comedic. Still, both likable guys….

    • Lee permalink
      December 3, 2011 8:53 am

      If you’d actually bothered to watch the movie before you criticised it, you would see that these issues are addressed. It is explained clearly in the film that both Joe and Phil developed their autoimmune disorders as a result of their poor eating habits, which habits had already made them fat before the weight-gain-promoting effects of the steroids they took to control the symptoms of the autoimmune disorder made their weight problems worse.

      • Mulberry permalink
        December 3, 2011 10:58 am

        Lee, since you saw the film, can you tell me what is this auto-immune disorder that’s actually caused by eating a lot? I’ve known of a couple that can be exacerbated by bad eating habits, but caused by – that’s a new one on me.
        If this is a rare disorder, it’s unlikely that it would be caused by poor eating habits, unless poor eating habits are rare, which they’re not.

        • Lee permalink
          December 3, 2011 7:17 pm

          Both Joe and Phil had chronic urticaria. You’re right, it’s not as simple as that this was CAUSED by poor eating habits and more that poor eating habits were a major factor in contributing to and exacerbating the development of the condition. That was careless phrasing on my part, but my point stands that people who have not seen the movie should not be mocking it for lacking information that it does in fact provide.

          • May 3, 2013 11:05 am

            I have dermatagraphic urticaria.. it’s not caused by poor diet (i’m vegan and eat a very healthy diet), it’s caused by genetics. (my son also has it). if you came away from the movie thinking that urticaria is caused by lifestyle choices then the movie is even worse than I thought.

      • December 5, 2011 1:31 pm

        (I’m moving this comment up to prevent noodling text)

        Hi Lee,
        First of all, welcome to Fierce Fatties. Pardon our skepticism but dietary health claims for chronic diseases are a dime a dozen. I appreciate the fact that in spite of fact that you obviously feel as though we have disrespected the men in the film, your response has been pretty civil. You’ll get much further with us that way than if you came in guns ablazin’. I haven’t seen the film yet, but am sufficiently curious to see what it’s about.

        That being said, I did a minimal amount of research and hope you can help me understand the disease and treatment outlined in the film.

        Now, from what I’ve read there are food additives that can exacerbate the rashes caused by urticaria.Others claimed that increasing physical activity can help as well. So if Joe was eating processed food and being sedentary, then that may have contributed to flare-ups. But nowhere have I found any claim that a person’s weight is a risk factor for urticaria. If you have information to the contrary, please share.

        As far a fasting, there is one study from the 90a that followed a woman with urticaria who fasted, but while it alleviated her symptoms during the fast they returned as soon as the fast ended.

        Since fasting is not sustainable, it doesn’t seem like the juice fast is the long-term cure he is looking for. But it does sound like there is an urticaria diet that does alleviate the symptoms. Regardless, it seems like the film-maker is capitalizing on anti-obesity hysteria to lure people into his film. Joe may have been fat, but that seems to have precious little to do with why he was sick. You could maybe call his weight a concurrent symptom with the urticaria due to his lifestyle choices, but to imply that his weight had anything to do with his disease seems to be stretching a premise.

        Again, I haven’t seen the film yet, but I am curious to see what connection he makes between his weight and the urticaria. If you want to explain, that would be great too.



      • dufmanno permalink
        December 5, 2011 1:44 pm

        Watched the film. Twice.
        I even went so far as to do some research on chronic urticaria and as Shannon can tell you I HATE additional research.
        This is on Netflix streaming for anyone who would like to check it out for themselves. I’m actually going to admit here that I found both guys extremely likable but it IS a movie. A movie that does have some entertainment value and tells a story. This is the story of Joe and Phil.
        The only issue I had with it was that it seemed to be leaning toward the easy wrap up.

  4. Fab@54 permalink
    December 1, 2011 5:36 pm

    I too came away from the synopsis somewhat confused. So let’s see… The trucker, Phil, is he fat because he is also taking steroids for this ‘rare’ disease, or is he fat because he eats 6 big macs a day and 2 gallons of soft drinks? Maybe he’s fat because he’s from a fat family and combine that with an extremely sedentary job….?
    I also can’t help but ‘expect’ there to be some sort of weird dieting message, a “how to lose tons of weight on The Super Juice Road Trip Diet!”
    I also can’t help but wonder what makes this particularly extreme diet of only juices from fruits and veggies any “healthier” than a normal run of the mill BALANCED eating plan – utilizing ALL the food groups? OR…..
    Why not just join a local gym and drink nothing at all but Slim-Fast or Boost for 60 days? I bet he would have lost weight, no? Why the road trip at all? Too weird. I don’t get it.

    OK, Some one’s gotta tell me, is there any point in this ‘documentary’ when the camera pans back to a little folding table at a roadside rest stop, and we zoom, slowly, and seductively on that big, shiny, (faux) stainless and black plastic juicer in all it’s glory…..
    and see Ron Popiel caressing it lovingly? Come on, I gotta know!

    BTW; I have absolutely no desire or curiosity to see this documentary.

    • dufmanno permalink
      December 1, 2011 7:40 pm

      If you have an hour or so where you have the choice between a root canal and movie watching I might pick this one up. Unless you are into that Marathon Man kind of thing, then nevermind..

  5. MrsS permalink
    December 1, 2011 9:21 pm

    Did any of you watch the Dr Oz Show on Monday? A doctor went on the program and said that obesity was not an epidemic. If I remember correctly, he said that weight has leveled off and that bad eating habits and lack of exercise are at the root of any epidemic. He believes that a person can be fat and healthy. He didn’t convince Dr Oz. They agreed on one thing: BMI is not a good measure of health.

    • Fab@54 permalink
      December 2, 2011 12:14 pm

      I’ve always thought Dr Oz was an ozhole. 😉

  6. December 2, 2011 9:32 am

    Dufmanno, your acerbic annie stance is awesome especially in light of the subject matter. I am waiting for his infomercial selling juicers with his name on it and promising endless prosperity along with getting juiced.

    Mrs. S., I saw the Dr. Oz show with Dr. Gaesser. Gaesser wrote the book,Big Fat Lies, and has been a strong voice in the HAES movement. I thought he held his own against the buffanooish Dr. Oz who kept saying over and over how “shocked” and “outraged” he was that Dr. G was promoting that people can be healthy and fat and thin and not so healthy. It’s worth taking a look at.

  7. December 2, 2011 2:38 pm

    Ha… Yes certainly FS & ND is not much more than an extended juicing commercial. Joe is a wealthy Australian businessman who took off a couple of mos to drive across America… well, bcz he COULD!
    We saw him live & in person at the DFW showing – he’s gained back 25 lbs of the 60 he initially lost on his juice fast… But i was more inspired by Phil, who peeled off about 170 lbs & was much more overtly unhealthy than Joe.

  8. DeAun permalink
    December 2, 2011 6:01 pm

    Weightloss aside, juicing or even fasting for various periods of time has been shown to significantly improve various autoimmune diseases(though it shouldn’t be done without the supervision of a doctor who knows how to manage a fast!). I think a lot of it is that it provides the body some respite from the overload that happens for all of us, but that some of us cannot handle as well. The thing is, after something like that, it is imperative to change eating habits to ones that will be nutritionally supportive and avoid things that exacerbate the person’s condition.

    It all goes back to individual health needs. I have definitely Seen even thin people benefit from fasts, again, weightloss is NOT the goal. Also, this is not always the answer for everyone. HAES discusses eating things that make you feel better. When dealing with an autoimmune disease, particularly after some sort of fast, following that recommendation will help keep people healthy, regardless of what weight they are.

    Hope that makes sense, I have a headache this afternoon!

    • Mulberry permalink
      December 2, 2011 11:33 pm

      Can you list some further references on this topic? I have a few autoimmune diseases (including one or two that might be autoimmune) and would like to look into this a bit more.

  9. Elizabeth permalink
    May 5, 2013 7:30 am

    I watched this movie and had some questions that had nowhere to go. If I ate nothing but juiced vegetables and fruits, I would have tremendous problems with low blood sugar (typical hypothyroidism). What did these fellows use for protein for all those months? Their own muscle tissue? Second, I tend to have good levels of potassium and low levels of sodium. All that fruit and veg would have overloaded me with potassium — how did they deal with that? Are we to imagine that their bodies were using up all the vast acreage of sodium they had ingested over the years? (Bodies don’t work like that.)

    And I was so glad to see Shannon comment about eating two large pizzas. Who does this? My husband, average weight, has had a huge appetite, and even he couldn’t eat two pizzas. I think Joe Cross should be damn grateful he wasn’t sicker than he was!

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