Documentaries are both a blessing and a curse.
They can be used to educate people about important issues facing America and the world.
Examples of this are “The Civil War,” done by Ken Burns and “Super-Size Me,” done by Morgan Spurlock.
Both of these films were able to discuss important topics without being too preachy or condescending to the viewer, making them two of the most well-known documentaries in the world.
As good as documentaries can be, they too have their naysayers.
One criticism of the genre is that they are too preachy and one-sided.
Unfortunately, “The Hand that Feeds” falls into this category.
It has a story that needs to be told, but the way that it’s presented is so tedious that it loses its impact in the end.
In 2011, the New York pizza shop Hot & Crusty apparently was underpaying its staff of foreign workers as well as placing them in unsafe working conditions.
After some amount of time, the workers finally became fed up with this maltreatment and decided to form a union to receive better benefits.
Through many obstacles, the workers were able to achieve this goal, proving that teamwork and determination can make true change possible.
As I said above, the story of Hot & Crusty needed to be told.
Early on, one worker tells us that his boss forced him to come in when the worker was sick, something that a good businessman would never do.
In another, we see that one of the machines in the back room is completely broken and would cause someone to cut him or herself.
The film makes it very clear that these conditions needed to be changed.
However, I kept wondering to myself if the maltreatment was occurring in this one location or if it was how the entire business was run.
If the entire franchise was run this way, then I would find it very hard to believe that it took this long for workers to take action.
The film argues the latter, so it seemed crazy to me that things could be as bad as they were at this company and the company still be operating.
However, maybe that was the point the filmmaker was attempting to make that it was possible for a restaurant with such ridiculous practices to stay open for so long.
I certainly hope that this is not the case for a large number of food businesses, or they will be facing some trouble after the employees see this.
If that was the director’s goal, then she succeeded extremely well at it.
However, it seemed like this was supposed to be a story of triumph over the system, and it was just too negative to be truly inspiring, at least in my opinion.
Maybe I am too young to understand the seriousness of the situation at this point, but I hope that is not the case.
I recommend the film for its look inside the business system.
It played in Taylor Little Theater at 2:00 p.m. Sunday Sept. 7th