The Magic Pill – Movie Review
It’s easy to be a fanboy and say everything Paleo is “super fantastic and will always be great no matter what!” But we need to keep it real.
I liked this movie. I really did. I just didn’t love it. “The Magic Pill” is not “The One” movie I was hoping it would be (or that it was hoping to be). I was hoping it would be “the final, all-inclusive, everything we’ve learned in the Paleo movement to date documentary film…” but it’s not.
Maybe I’m hoping for too much.
Maybe I’m being too critical.
But again, we have to be honest here.
What I liked
Instead of focusing on endless charts and scientific data that has accumulated to support this way of eating, the filmmakers chose to tell simple stories about real people with real health problems, and how a Paleo diet helped them. To their credit, the filmmakers never even say the word “Paleo,” but it’s perfectly clear that that’s the diet they’re advocating.
- They follow an obese woman laden with pills on the edge of dementia.
- They follow a young family and their six-year-old daughter with autism.
- They follow a woman who’s struggled with chronic asthma among many other ailments.
- They briefly touch on another severely autistic boy.
- A woman who sent her cancer into remission with a ketogenic diet.
- A woman with 99% arterial blockage who saved herself.
- And finally, an aboriginal community in Australia racked with diabetes and heart disease.
I think the filmmakers chose to show how this diet directly impacts humans rather than focus on lab studies and endless talking heads. This certainly can make an emotional impact but it can also leave others (me) wanting much more substance.
Essentially, the film touches on a lot of points but didn’t go deep enough for my liking.
What I Didn’t Like
As mentioned above, the personal stories the filmmakers focus on are all anecdotal. I can find miraculous stories to support nearly any diet if look hard enough. I’m not at all saying the filmmakers were being disingenuous. I’m just saying, we’ve all seen misleading/disingenuous tactics in so many “health” films that it’s impossible not to be skeptical.
Again. I’m not saying these filmmakers were being deceptive. It’s just that, the film is trying to educate a non-Paleo audience. Those people, unfortunately, are bombarded with so many conflicting films that it’s hard to know which ones to believe and which ones to be skeptical about. More substance would’ve been helpful.
On top of that, there’s very little science touted throughout the film. With the exception of the fantastic journalism of Nina Teicholz (who gives a fantastic thumbnail sketch of what’s wrong with modern nutrition policy), there are many nutrition and environmental experts the filmmakers could have spoken to for some truly expert opinions.
Am I asking too much to want it both ways? I think it can be done (really looking forward to the Kale vs Cow documentary film).
Another aspect they barely touched on is the environmental impact of a Paleo lifestyle. I’m referring to the exciting idea that regenerative agriculture might just be the smartest thing humans could ever do for ourselves and the planet. It’s a big topic, I know. I just wish the filmmakers gave us a little more meat on this topic as well.
Is it worth a watch? Absolutely. As of this posting, you can only see the film at local screenings. Or, you can watch it here now. Even though the film isn’t as complete as I’d like it to be, it’s still worth your time.