Review: ‘Know Your Mushrooms’

Vet documaker Ron Mann ("Comic Book Confidential") aims to gladden the hearts of fungophiles everywhere with "Know Your Mushrooms," a playfully informative look at various types of fleshy fungi and the folks who avidly consume them.

Vet documaker Ron Mann (“Comic Book Confidential”) aims to gladden the hearts of fungophiles everywhere with “Know Your Mushrooms,” a playfully informative look at various types of fleshy fungi and the folks who avidly consume them. Rooted in Colorado’s Telluride Mushroom Festival, which annually attracts thousands of venturesome foodies and mellow tripsters, but expansive enough to detail the far-flung explorations of Larry Evans, a colorful mycology expert dubbed “the Indiana Jones of mushrooms,” this lightly amusing pic could blossom on the Food Network and other niche cable outlets after limited theatrical release.

Evans and former Telluride festival co-leader Gary Lincoff loom largest among the interviewees who wax enthusiastic about the uses of mushrooms to satisfy appetites and expand consciousnesses. At one point, Lincoff vividly describes an exhilarating experience with hallucinogenic psilocybes — so-called “magic mushrooms” — as a counterbalance to a campy clip from the 1963 Japanese horror opus “Attack of the Mushroom People.” More often, though, Mann focuses on mushrooms as culinary treats and, potentially, scientific miracles. (Oyster mushrooms, a scientist notes, may be used to clean oil spills.) Slick production values include clever animated sequences that cheerily present fungi factoids.

Know Your Mushrooms

Canada

Production

A Films We Like presentation of a Sphinx Prods. production. Produced by Ron Mann. Co-producer, Bill Imperial. Directed, written by Ron Mann.

Crew

Camera (Deluxe color), Andy Keen; editors, Simon Ennis, Nick Taylor; music, the Flaming Lips; music supervisor, Mike Rosnick. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, March 12, 2009. (In SXSW Film Festival -- Special Screenings.) Running time: 73 MIN.

With

Gary Lincoff, Larry Evans.
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