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‘Super Size Me’
Imagine eating at McDonald’s for every meal of every day. If you were 7 years old, that might sound a lot like heaven. But for documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, it ended up a lot like hell.
Spurlock, a Manhattan filmmaker, saw constant reports on America’s obesity problem, and news of lawsuits filed by hefty customers against McDonald’s. He wondered just how bad fast food is for you, and decided to find out by eating nothing but Big Macs and Chicken Nuggets for thirty days.
The result is a witty, startling and insightful look at pop culture and what we’re eating.
Spurlock undergoes a startling transformation. He starts out looking like a pretty healthy guy — but soon his face goes gray, his eyes cloud, and by month’s end he’s gained a shocking 25 pounds. It’s clear the speed of his decay under a diet of French fries and milkshakes surprises even him. The doctors he consulted with at the start are soon begging him to quit as his internal organs suffer and his cholesterol skyrockets.
A lot of what makes “Super Size Me” work is Spurlock’s amiable, goofy presence. It’s hard not to feel for him as his health suffers over the course of his 30-day experiment.
Obviously, nobody sane would have a three-meal-a-day McDonald’s diet, but the results of Spurlock’s experiment are still shocking.
“Super Size Me” doesn’t quite condemn the very idea of fast food, but clearly takes a stand against the corporate mentality that rules the market, or pushing fast food to kids (one telling sequence shows a group of schoolchildren who don’t recognize George Washington or Jesus Christ, but know right away the merry Ronald McDonald).
Spurlock looks at the food kids are getting in schools, at McDonald’s junkies and talks to various nutrition experts. It goes without saying that Spurlock’s girlfriend, a vegan chef, is horrified at his new diet.
As a novice filmmaker, Spurlock does occasionally lack focus. There’s a lengthy, grotesque sequence of a gastric bypass surgery that seems gratuitous.
Documentaries like “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Super Size Me,” whatever their flaws, do engage the audience, and forcefully attack apathy wherever it’s found.
Sometimes they even make a difference — shortly after “Super Size Me” premiered, McDonald’s decided to eliminate the oversized meal options the movie gets its very title from.
*** of four