Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating Review
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A few years ago, I stumbled upon the, um, sport of competitive eating. It was the Fourth of July, and I apparently had nothing better to do than surf TV channels. But it was then that I stumbled across the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest—and it only took me twelve short minutes to become entirely hooked.

By the time that I discovered competitive eating, though, Crazy Legs Conti was already a devoted follower of the sport. Each July Fourth, he traveled to Coney Island to watch the sport’s great hot dog eaters compete for the coveted mustard yellow belt. And though he practiced the sport on an amateur level in his New York City apartment, actually competing in events “seemed like an impossible dream.” But for Conti—New York window washer, nude model, and professional sperm donor—that dream was about to come true.

Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating follows Conti as he takes the step from competitive eating super-fan to card-carrying competitive eater. The story begins on July 4, 2001, with Conti in the crowd at Coney Island, cheering on his favorite eaters. But Conti’s story takes an important turn during the 2002 Super Bowl, when he stops by a New Orleans oyster bar to watch the game—and ends up eating 34 dozen oysters (do the math—that’s 408 of ‘em). From there, Conti joins up with the International Federation of Competitive Eating and begins his quest to earn a place at the table in Coney Island.

This documentary is a stomach-turning and side-splitting look at one man’s quest for fame and intestinal fortitude. Throughout the film, you’ll learn a bit about the history of competitive eating, but you’ll also learn all about Conti’s competitive eating strategies and philosophies. You’ll meet his family and his friends. And you’ll watch him eat a whole heck of a lot of food.

Beyond the film itself, the DVD also contains a ton of special features. You’ll find deleted scenes (featuring a trip to the salon and a rather bizarre therapy session), as well as a commentary and a plethora of Conti’s crazy stunts.

Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating is as hilarious as it is horrifying. But the thing that makes it so interesting isn’t exactly the food—it’s Conti himself. He’s a totally entertaining character—one that you won’t be able to stop watching, even when he’s attempting to eat whole sticks of butter.

Enlightening and often just plain funny, the dread-locked, Hawaiian-shirted Conti is a capable (and did I mention entertaining?) guide through the world of competitive eating. And I guarantee that if you can make it through this entire film without your gag reflexes kicking in, you’ll become an instant fan of competitive eating—and of Crazy Legs Conti, the Oyster King.

If you’re a fan of competitive eating—or of food in general—you won’t want to miss this film.

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