Film: The Great Chicken Wing Hunt
Starring: Ben Beavers, Al Caster, Ric Kealoha
Director: Matt Reynolds
I love food. Cooking it, eating it, learning about it, all of that. I spend more hours than I am comfortable admitting watching shows on Food Network and other similar channels. The history of particular foods and how they came to be is one of my favorite aspects of food entertainment and no food has a more interesting and uniquely American history than the chicken wing. When The Great Chicken Wing Hunt arrived at the UTG office I jumped on the chance to review it. I may be a little biased, but I think everyone, food lover or not, will enjoy this documentary.
The Great Chicken Wing Hunt was conceived and directed by Matt Reynolds, a native New Yorker that moved to Slovakia. Reynolds has always had a special place in his heart for the Buffalo wing so he decided to give up his successful life in Europe to return to the region he grew up in to find the best Buffalo wing in the world. So Reynolds assembled a Czech film crew and a bunch of misfit wing lovers from America to be official judges and set off on a road trip to The Wing Belt (mostly upstate New York) visiting an absurd amount of restaurants to eventually award the title of World’s Best Wings, documenting the entire journey as it unfolded.
Now when I say misfit wing lovers I mean it. Without question one of the best aspects of The Great Chicken Wing Hunt is the cast. From a large bearded man that goes by the name of Thor to a Hawaiian chef, the ensemble that make up the judges for the wings are unique and interesting. Some of the guys take things very seriously while others joke around and seem genuinely content just to be part of the experience — you will easily find someone to think of as your favorite judge (mine is Thor).
In addition to the great cast, the music used in the film is a folksy slice of Americana, which fits perfectly behind a story about the most American food of all. Perhaps what makes the music so special is that some of it performed by one of the judges, an older gentleman named Al Caster. Adorned with a giant white beard and long white hair, this man is constantly playing the guitar like some sort of chicken wing folk hero.
The only thing that seemed off about the documentary was a superfluous love story between Reynolds and his girlfriend. It almost seemed like an afterthought to include this story, and with a 71-minute runtime maybe they did just need something to stretch the story a little further.
As a food lover and appreciator of chicken wings this movie was exceedingly entertaining. The Great Chicken Wing Hunt‘s lighthearted folksiness kept the mood light and fun instead of cliched and boring. The mix of offbeat and eccentric judges offers a lot of variety in character to relate to and more than made up for the out-of-place romance subplot. Whether you love chicken wings or not this is a fun documentary that will keep you entertained.
Review written by: Justin Proper