The Real Dirt on Farmer John


Generally favorable reviews - based on 11 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    We've seen documentaries with more daring themes, greater drama, sharper craft and timelier subject matter. But few have been as affecting as The Real Dirt on Farmer John.
  2. 88
    This is a loving, moving, inspiring, quirky documentary that was made while the lives it records were being lived.
  3. 80
    At times, the film plays like an extended infomercial for John's new company, Angelic Organics, but the agrarian fantasy is so compelling here that the revitalization of the American family farm begins to seem not just possible, but probable.
  4. Offers one man's extraordinary life as a gateway to a larger history of tragedy and transition. It's an unflinching account of what farming takes -- and, more important, what it gives back.
  5. 80
    It’s fascinating that this portrait of the rise, fall and rise of Midwestern organic farmer John Peterson can be read in so many different ways, only some of which appear intentionally in Taggart Siegel’s sympathetic documentary about his friend and fellow artist.
  6. 80
    Though its title suggests an exposé on Dodger Dogs, the movie is the moving, inspirational account of John Peterson's discovery of an almost divine calling in the land beneath his feet.
  7. In many ways, it's a painful story, but it's also full of curious triumphs and outlandish redemptions.
  8. A loose, amiable documentary tracking several decades in the life of this most unusual farmer.
  9. Despite the movie's intimate nature, Siegel deftly broadens his view to observe the culture and conditions of contemporary American farming. Don't be surprised if, by the finish, you wind up fantasizing about your own rural homestead.
  10. 70
    A beguiling combination of agrarian ode and “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” deepened by Peterson's square sincerity as he struggles to find himself in relation to his family's land.
  11. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Examines 50-odd years in the life of its eponymous subject -- a most compelling character -- and in doing so literally provides the viewer with food for thought.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. SteveL.
    Feb 17, 2006
    The film reflects the struggles of American family farmers over the last fifty years and, more importantly, the universal Hero
  2. Sandy
    Jan 21, 2006
    An extremely interesting documentary. Well done,well paced And if you enjoy documentaries,see this!!