Further evidence that everything is bad for you is offered by “King Corn,” which reveals how the U.S. farming staple is much more present in our diet—and having much more of an effect on our ever-expanding national waistline—than consumers realize. No doubt inspired to some degree by “Super Size Me,” this equally engaging, slightly better-crafted docu deftly balances humor and insight…Arresting factoids are delivered by helmer Aaron Woolf and collaborators in a package that’s as agreeable as it is informative. Subjects’ low-key antics, their affectionate regard for the small-town milieu, some delightful stop-motion animation and an excellent rootsy soundtrack by the WoWz all make “King Corn” go down easy, even if you might regard your burger, fries, and Coke with suspicion afterward. Handsome lensing and Jeffrey K. Miller’s sharp editing are also worthy of note.
THE WASHINGTON POST
Joining the recent noble tradition of fine muckraking documentaries about where cheap stuff comes from, “King Corn” pulls the husk off the scandal of modern food production, specifically the industrialized, subsidized, largely mythologized world of American farming…Lively, engaging and visually arresting…Directed with vigor and high visual style by Aaron Woolf, “King Corn” should be required viewing by anyone planning to visit a supermarket, fast-food joint or their own refrigerator. Funny, wise and sad, it suggests that being well-fed has nothing to do with being well-nourished.
THE BOSTON GLOBE
“King Corn” manages to win us over in part because it does not announce its outrage through a bullhorn. Instead, this soft-spoken movie directed by newcomer Aaron Woolf gets its point across by settling in among its rural Iowa subjects and following the lead of its goofy everyman co-producers/stars, Ian Cheney and Curtis Ellis, as they attempt to farm a single acre of corn…Where this documentary distinguishes itself, however, is in the unusual amount of warmth it lets into the mix. Cheney and Ellis are both funny and completely unthreatening, which does not mean toothless. Like his stars, Woolf treats both friend and foe (including farm-subsidies inventor Earl Butz) with respect, refraining from sarcasm, superiority, or ambush. “King Corn” insists that we recognize the Corn Belt’s beauty and intelligence along with its somewhat self-induced plight…It’s fair to say that a meaner documentary might have packed more punch. But it’s hard to imagine Michael Moore turning out anything that feels as pleasantly nourishing.
A deceptively intelligent new entry in the regular-Joe documentary genre, “King Corn” follows two recent Yale graduates as they ‘return” to the rural county in Iowa where (by coincidence) both of them have ancestral roots…The movie they made with director (and Ellis’ cousin( Aaron Woolf is a chilling one. Corn is ubiquitous in the American diet even if you think you’re not eating it, and the deranged overproduction of corn instituted in the Nixon era has directly contributed to epidemic levels of obesity and diabetes. Thankfully, this information arrives via a graceful and frequently humorous film that captures the idiosyncrasies of its characters and never hectors.
THE VILLAGE VOICE
Directed by Aaron Woolf, this is a twofold journey: the story of how two college buddies learned about their agricultural heritage, and the tale of how kernels of corn have insidiously worked their way into America’s diet…A worthy companion piece to Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation (more the book than the movie), King Corn will put you off corn for a long, long time, but this is as much a thoughtful meditation on the plight of the American farmer as it is a rant against our expanding waistlines.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
The press materials for “King Corn” trumpet it as a cross between “Sicko” and “Super Size Me,” but the film’s protagonists, Mr. Ellis and his college friend, Ian Cheney, come off as genial searchers…When Mr. Ellis and Mr. Cheney visit Earl Butz, the former Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Nixon and Ford…Mr. Butz is treated as respectfully as Iowa’s plain-spoken farmers, and the golden fields of corn are shot to evoke their majesty. If the filmmakers are going to point any fingers, they say, they will start with themselves.