Movie Review - A Place at the Table

Barbie and her two kids cook spaghetti
in Philadelphia in "A Place at the Table"
This documentary is basically a sequel to Food, Inc. (2008)). The movies have two different directors but share executive producers in Diane Weyermann and Jeff Skoll. Not many documentaries get sequels. Some documentaries that have gotten sequels include Seven Up! (1964), Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) and Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006).

Food, Inc. examined corporate farming in the United States and how agribusiness has become a harmful thing in the culture, mostly environmentally. A Place at the Table talks tangentially about the negative effects of agribusiness but it focuses on the issue of food insecurity and the ill-nutrition of children in low-income areas. The overarching issue is poverty and how that lends to hunger as well as obesity, ironically.

A lot of the issues have been raised in other documentaries by Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock, as well as Food, Inc. The difference is this film focuses more on the young children who are affected. Director Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush bounce between three children in three different areas.

The first is Rosie, a 5th grader living with her mom and grandmom on a farm in Collburn, Colorado. The second is Aidan, a toddler living with his sister and single mom, Barbie, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The third is Tremonica, a 2nd grader who's overweight and living in Jonestown, Mississippi. The three kids are obviously cute and it's heartbreaking to hear them express hunger and be hurt because of their plight.

It all boils down to healthy, organic foods being too expensive and poor people not having enough money to buy those foods, even if they weren't expensive. Jacobson and Silverbush effectively use the children to pull heartstrings, along with their struggling parents. Their film isn't overly sentimental but it does attempt to be more emotional.

Original music by T. Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars aids them. The opening song "Finding North" and the end credits song "Long Time Gone" are both beautiful on a basic emotional level.

Four Stars out of Five.
Rated PG for brief mild language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 24 mins.


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