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Ten Deep 4.25.13: Top Ten Weight Loss Movies
Posted by Mike Gorman on 04.25.2013

"Top Ten Weight Loss Movies"

There are times where we look at our lives and say, "Whoa, that would make an awesome movie!" and at other moments we watch films and see our lives reflected. This week I hit a milestone birthday, a new decade, and it's put me into an introspective mood. I decided to channel that energy into this week's Ten Deep by combining my love of film and how it speaks to our lives with the personal journey I have been on the past few years. I won't bore you with all the details, but I will tell you that as I write this I am just about 5 pounds away from being down 300lbs from my highest weight a few years back. Cliche, no? Movie geek who writes for a website has a weight problem, not exactly the most unique story but it might be one that some of you out there can relate to at the end of the day.

So how does this relate to this week's Ten Deep? I thought I would look to the movies to see what they can reveal about the in's and out's of tackling a diet. It's not all salads and gym memberships, there's more going on. One could say there's an intricate plot unfurling itself, much like some of the best movies. Am I reaching a bit here? You'll get to decide that for yourselves when you get to number 1!

10. Rocky IV

All weight loss journeys need one thing to get them started, motivation and let's get real, there is no greater story of triumph and motivation on film than that of Rocky Balboa. For the purpose of this list I choose Rocky IV because it features one of the most impressive training montages in the history of film. If watching Rocky lift logs and run in the snow do not get you primed for an awesome workout, I am not sure if there is anything that every will. Besides, I think the Rocky theme is a staple on 90% of the workout playlists I have come across! Here is that awesome training montage in its entirety.

9. The Nutty Professor

People do a lot of crazy things to lose weight. Well, not just crazy but dangerous things. In the update of The Nutty Professor we see that the highly intelligent Sherman Klump wants to lose weight so desperately that he experiments on himself, to disastrous and hilarious results. Luckily for him, in the end he realizes the folly of his ways and survives a battle with his thinner alter ego. (See the climax to their conflict in the clip below!) The final message of the film is that you have to accept & love yourself and I completely agree. How can you expect to make some major changes in your life if you spend all your energy hating yourself? Learn to love yourself as is, and it will become easier to do the things you need to in order to treat yourself better. This is something I have learned to be true.

8. Monty Python's Meaning Of Life

Changing your eating habits is not easy and when you start to restrict the things you used to love, the cravings can get a bit overwhelming for a while. Monty Python's Meaning Of Life provides the perfect caricature of how this feels and what might happen if you give in, in the form of the unforgettable Mr. Creosote. He prefers his menu complete and in a bucket. The lesson here? Be wary of those wafer thin mints! Creosote takes the "living to eat" concept to whole new level in the clip below.

7. Thinner

In Stephen King's Thinner, we meet a successful defense attorney who is winning in every facet of his life except for his battle of the bulge. He gets every client off even if they don't deserve it. Eventually though he learns that there are consequences to his behavior when a gypsy curse's him with the word, "thinner." Soon he finds weight loss success that knows no boundaries. I chose this film because it brings to life the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for!" A weight loss journey is not just about wanting to be thinner, although it can often feel that way. Thinner is a great reminder to keep an eye on the big picture. In the clip below, the curse of Thinner begins...

6. What's Eating Gilbert Grape

I debated whether or not I was going to include What's Eating Gilbert Grape on this list. Not because I wasn't sure if this film dealt directly with weight issues, but because I wondered if it gets too deep into them. The movie is not at all about weight loss itself, but about the impact of a person's weight on themselves and the people in their lives. This can be a truly touchy subject, but I think it is a good one to discuss when the time is right. When you are extremely overweight, as I was, you make changes and adaptations to make life seem "normal" but those changes impact you & the people in your life, sometimes in small ways and at others in much bigger ones. In the film, there is clearly deep love in the family but there are also stress and challenges that manifest themselves in the most tragic ways. If you're struggling with 10lbs to lose, you might not see what I am talking about, but maybe you do.

5. Supersize Me

Supersize Me is the only documentary that I chose to include this week even though there are literally dozens of them that deal with food issues, weight loss and fitness. I chose Supersize Me because it tackled one of the major issues in this country, fast food, and then actually led to change. Though McDonald's denies it vehemently, I think it is pretty clear that when they eliminate their supersize options a few months after a film targets those exact things, there is at least some kind of link. The film itself is fascinating for a few reasons because it not only looks at the gluttonous aspects of the fast food industry but also takes some time to look at what the alleged "food" these places serves is made up of. If you have never seen it, I encourage you to check out the extras that came with the DVD release. Specifically the experiment to see what happens when you let a McMeal sit out un-preserved for an extended period of time. Here's a hint... nothing. If that doesn't get you interested in knowing more about what you're eating I am not sure what would.

4. Fatso

Anne Bancroft's directorial debut, Fatso is a gem from the 80s that dives right into the life of an overweight man portrayed with sincerity by Dom Deluise. The film is not a comedic caricature but a touching look at the choices we make when dealing with a gripping food addiction. When Deluise's character chooses food over his family and friends in a variety of situations, even when he is not sure why, I could definitely relate. There is a fantastic scene where he is getting support from his diet sponsor and they start to talk about food. The scene is almost graphically sexual in its feel and I think it gives an awesome glimpse into how the mind of someone truly obsessed with food can function. Check it out here.

3. Vision Quest

Weight and obsession take a different path in Vision Quest. This film is not about an overweight character but it definitely gets into the topic of weight loss from a different angle. Matthew Modine stars as Louden Swain, a high school wrestler who has to drop a few weight classes to take on the match of his life. I'm suggesting this one as a film full of actually diet tips because as we see the story play out, he doesn't always choose the healthiest way to cut weight but the film dives deep into drive and motivation. Louden makes a lot of sacrifices to get to his goals. Sacrifices that people standing on the outside might not always understand. It was this that I could truly relate to. Sometimes making change, especially changing your weight & health after being a certain way for so long takes a healthy dose of obsession.

2. Heavyweights

There are dozens of diet gurus out there, some with the best intentions while most are more concerned with their bottom line and not the width of your, well, "bottom line." Heavyweights introduces us to one of those crazier types,Tony Perkis. Perkis preys on the hopes and insecurities of the kids at a weight loss camp. This bit of comedy gold presents a great exploration of what it feels like to be that outcast, overweight kid who wants to find acceptance. I will admit that while I was laughing along with the journey of the kids at "Camp Hope" I was also reliving a lot of my experiences as a fat kid, especially the moments when people in my life tried to get me to see their "adult" perspective on how and why I should change. At that age, everyone seems like Ben Stiller's Perkis when they bring up your weight, trust me. Here is a look at Perkis' antics.

And lastly…

1. LBS

Some of the films I have suggested to you so far have been for comedic reasons and others for their resonance to my own experiences. LBS is a film that really sits head and shoulders above the rest in terms of being on a list of great movies about weight loss. It is an independent film that's real life back story is almost as interesting as the film itself. Writer Carmine Famiglietti was very overweight and wanted to find something that would motivate him to make change, so he decided that he was going to make and star in a movie about one man's weight loss journey. He realized that to do so successfully he would have to actually lose weight so that it would be apparent on film. This gave him a goal and a reason that he never had before to make it happen. I won't give away the end result, but the film itself ends up being a fascinating exploration of what it means to tackle a food addiction head while taking personal responsibility for one's behavior. Carmine's story is different from the one in the story but both are interesting in the end. In the film, the main character discovers that he had built his life to reinforce his bad behaviors and that it would take a drastic change of action and scenery to effect a true lasting change. The film's has no happy Hollywood ending and I think that is why it resonated so much to me and my experiences. LBS brings the struggle to life in a raw and exposed way that I do not think has been done on film before. If you have ever struggled with your weight, or any challenge, I definitely recommend you check this one out.

Time to weigh in. I know that this may have been a bit different than the usual fare you expect here each week but I hope it has turned into a pleasant deviation. My true hope in the end is that in at least a small way I have tried to illuminate the idea that the concept of weight loss is as multifaceted as the films on this list. If you're interested at all in learning some more about the journey I have been on, you can check out my blog, Shakin Bacon.

Before I go, get ready for some excitement the next two weeks!! I am going away to celebrate my birthday and two awesome 411Mania soldiers have volunteered to step in and keep your Ten Deep plate full in my absence. I hope you enjoy your visit with Tony & Steve, and I be back soon!

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