Any film about General Tso’s chicken is by definition a film about America. The dish is almost unheard of in China. The way it is prepared in the United States, with broccoli and a sugary sauce, is anathema to so many elements of Chinese cuisine. And yet it is staggeringly popular here, served in practically every Chinese restaurant in the country, of which there are thousands upon thousands. The Search for General Tso is a charming history of Chinese-American cuisine and therefore, in its own way, a history of America and its tastes. Briskly paced, witty, and featuring some of the best graphics work of the year, it’s the most fun I had in the whole festival.
This brief review was originally published on April 28, 2014, in a list of the best documentaries of the Tribeca Film Festival. It is being reposted on its own now for its theatrical release.