I finally watched King Corn last week after missing it in the theaters and waiting for it from Netflix. I should have seen it sooner. There's a lot to like.
- Cheney and Ellis are charming stand-ins for the film viewer, looking with astonishment on an industrial system few people understand.
- The film overcomes gimmickry in part through excellent interviews with Ken Cook, Michael Pollan, an agronomist, a corn syrup industry public relations person, and more. The interview with former Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz, prophet of the agriculture motto "get big or get out," is of considerable historical interest. This interview reminded me of Michael Moore's interview with Charlton Heston in Bowling for Columbine, but Cheney and Ellis are kinder to their host.
- A tour of urban neighborhoods, chaperoned by a fellow who grew up in the neighborhood and who lost a parent to diabetes, extends the film's scope beyond the heartland and increases its relevance to audiences anywhere in the country.
- The film is clever in its use of visuals to communicate complicated information, such as hand-drawn bar graphs that provide substantial quantitative detail without breaking the film's rustic tone, and funny animations using a toy farm to illustrate the agriculture system's interrelationships.