Sarasota 2013: ‘The Great Chicken Wing Hunt’ Review


Film Pulse Score

Release Date: April 8th, 2012 (Sarasota Film Festival)
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score 6/10

The chicken wing has been a staple of American cuisine for the last 43 years now, and finally we have a documentary that honors and explores one of our most beloved dishes.  Director Matt Reynolds decides to take himself and a panel of judges across the country in hopes of finding the world’s best chicken wing, and thus begins the Great Chicken Wing Hunt.

Now, as being one of the few Americans that doesn’t care for wings, I wasn’t optimistic in finding a lot of entertainment value from this doc.  Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  What we have here is more than a film about a bunch of people trying to find the best wing. It takes a look at the individuals themselves and explores the cultural impact that those little pieces of meat have, and why we love them so much.

The film begins with a quick history lesson, filling us in on where and how the Buffalo wing was invented, and how it was formed out of a series of happy accidents.  This information was presented in an extremely entertaining way, and proved to be very interesting even to someone who didn’t necessarily care about wings.

After we learn about the wing and its humble beginnings, we’re brought into the journey itself, with the filmmaker introducing himself as well as the judges who will be accompanying him on the trip. It’s this endearing and eclectic bunch that makes the film a joy to watch.

On a technical level the film looks professional and succeeds at what it sets out to do.  The subject matter doesn’t really warrant beautiful cinematography and the film focuses more on the characters than the visuals, which is what a movie like this should do.  Director Reynolds received nearly $17,000 through a successful Kickstarter campaign to get the film polished up and it appears like the money didn’t go to waste.

It’s also a film that didn’t overstay its welcome, clocking in at around 71 minutes.  It’s a brisk doc that keeps everything light and breezy.  If there was anything more I’d like to see, it’s the world aspect of the film.  The goal is for the crew to discover the greatest wings in the world, however they don’t travel outside the New York area.  While this area is certainly the most prominent chicken wing hub, if the winner is declared best in the world, it should be exactly that.  There could be some amazing Buffalo wing chef in Japan that’s blowing the lid off the chicken wing game, but we don’t know it.  That’s probably not the case, and it’s clear they did what they could, covering 75 wing shops and 284 types of wings in 16 days, but if there’s another competition in the future, I would like to see it expanded.

Again, I’m not a chicken wing guy.  I know I’m clearly in the minority and most will cry blasphemy when I announce my ambivalence when it comes to being a fan of them.  That being said, this was still an enjoyable doc that proves to be an easy recommend for those that are wing fanatics and those that aren’t.