New RALPHIE MAY Documentary is overloaded with HONESTY and HEART from those that knew him best.
Filmmaker Cat Rhinehart sets out to make a weight loss documentary on the beloved comedian Ralphie May, who is planning on having lap band surgery during the summer. As she spends the year filming Ralphie, his wife and two young children, it becomes clear the larger-than-life comedian has no intention of losing weight. Ralphie’s wife, fellow comedian Lahna Turner, slowly begins to realize her husband isn’t going to change, and no amount of pressure from her, nor past health scares he’s had, can compel Ralphie to do so.
Ralphie’s wife and loved ones are dealt a devastating blow when Ralphie decides not to have his scheduled weight-loss surgery. A compromise is made, and a personal trainer is sent on the road with Ralphie during his nation-wide tour in the hopes to help the comedian lose weight in lieu of surgery. Ralphie’s demanding tour schedule, ailing health and pressure to lose weight puts a heavy strain on his relationship with his wife and family and cracks in his marriage begin to show through arguments and confrontations. After a particularly bad fight with his wife, Lahna takes the children and flies back to their Los Angeles home. Ralphie eventually files for divorce leaving Lahna to deal with the aftermath of trying to keep the family together and having her children in a healthy environment.
On October 6, 2017, Ralphie unexpectedly dies during his residency in Vegas. The film revisits Lahna and the children two years later in an epilogue.
Its called: “What’s Eating Ralphie May?”
After being sent a screener, I was blown away by the film. I can see why Dr. Drew Pinksky of Celebrity Rehab fame is one of the producers on this. It has the power to influence and effect real change in its viewers. As a fat man and former comedian I know I relate with his struggles, sidenote: the day he passed away I was diagnosed with diabetes. I had a few followup questions for Lahna Turner, and she was nice enough to let me run them by her.
1. Why have you decided to release this film now, after Ralphie’s death?
It wasn’t possible to release while he was still alive because it wasn’t done. Cat had started working on a version of the film that was about the original premise of being a weightless documentary that ended in him filing for divorce. Unfortunately, Ralphie passed away and Cat had to do a re-edit so the film has two sad endings the first one where Ralphie lost his marriage and then the second ending in which he lost his life.
2. What was your involvement in the making of the film? i.e. Did you have a part in the
It was my idea to start filming. Ralphie had always wanted to do reality TV and I was against that. We had had the experience of being followed around with manipulative producers with an agenda and I wanted no part of that, but Ralphie had performed very well on celebrity fit club and I felt like the pressure of the camera would be helpful. Ralphie was a performer so I figured he would thrive with the camera on him. The outcome wasn’t what I had expected and when I realized how major of a part of the film I had become I stepped out so as not to influence the story.
3. What is your favorite part of the film?
The film is really hard for me to watch. Seeing our struggle makes me very sad., but if I had to say my favorite part would be some of the scenes with the kids and how adorable they are.
4. What sets this documentary apart from all the other ones out there?
Typically, when a celebrity passes there is a biopic-style documentary, telling the story from the people around them with footage to fill in. That isn’t the case with this film. It was shot while Ralphie was alive and documented the very difficult time that transpired
before and after he passed. I don’t think there has been a film like this made about any other celebrity.
5. Who is this documentary for? You? Ralphie’s fans? Your children?
I hope this film will end up being for anyone is suffering from the impact of addiction, codependency, and mental illness.
6. What is the inspiration behind the documentary?
The original inspiration was to try and get Ralphie well and keep him alive by losing weight. After he passed away, the inspiration to finish the film rested in trying to help others to get help: both the addicts and codependents.
7. What are you hoping to accomplish with the release of this film?
Helping people learn that the only person who you can change is yourself.
8. How do you think this will affect Ralphie’s Legacy?
I believe this film will open Ralphie to an entirely new audience. Hopefully people who love documentaries will see this film and then seek out his standup.
9. Will your children see the film? If so, how do you think they will react to seeing their
parents in this light?
I don’t want the kids to see the film until they are much older. I think it will make them very sad to see the dysfunction of our family and their early years, but hopefully it will also help answer questions for them. Watching the film personally allowed me to have a much deeper understanding for what went on and I hope it will do the same for them. I also hope that my children will be able to help others who have gone down similar roads.
10. How do you think Ralphie would react to the film if he were alive to see it today?
That’s a really hard question to answer. If Ralphie were alive today to see the film, we would have a very different film because he would have taken the road towards a healthy life in which case I think he would have been very proud of his choices. If he can see the film postmortem, I would think he would be sad and full of regret for giving up such an amazing life.
Thank you Lahna.
I’d like to recommend all my readers go to www.WhatsEatingRalphieMay.com for updates and what platforms it’ll be available to watch it on. Also please follow @RalphieMay for updates as well.
*The Writer would like to thank Jeremy Bonds for his assistance with this article.