Worth A Look: 27.85%
Pretty Bad: 1.27%
Total Crap: 5.7%
9 reviews, 104 user ratings
|Super Size Me
by Jason Whyte
During the recent screening of the documentary "Super-Size Me" I attended, I quietly noticed people who had purchased their popcorn and gallon-cup of soda placed their concession items on the floor to be ignored. As I left the screening, I walked by several popcorn bags that were still pretty much full, and I can only assume those 44oz. cups remain untouched. (Remember that news report years ago that a bag of buttered popcorn had more fat content than six Big Macs?)I remember writing in my review of "The Corporation" a few months back that the corporations know that we're addicted to cinema food, because many of us don't feel that we're properly watching a movie without it. So they make sure their advertising dollars and publicity is strong enough to make sure that we keep wanting it time and time again.
"You take care of your body...it will take care of you."
Where Morgan Spurlock's documentary takes off, however, is on America's obsession and over-consumption of fast food. Big food conglomerates like McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell (mmm...Taco Bell) and others thrive on the selling and the return-customers of cheaply produced, low-cost food that many adore, mostly for its addictive substances and the fact they can get "full" on such a low cost. And even a few years ago, two teenage girls tried to sue McDonalds for selling food to them, which failed because they chose to eat so much of it rather than make it a part of their diet.
Since McDonalds is the most prominent fast-food outlet, the hook in this docu is when Spurlock decides to go on a one-month McD's diet where breakfast, lunch and dinner are spent at the Golden Arches. He's to supersize when asked, and he must only order what is on the menu. Talk about a filmmaker loving his material! This idea is protested by his doctors and especially his girlfriend, who is ironically a vegan chef that would be right at home in Woody Harrelson's recent Vegan-crusade film "Go Further".
The effects of the McDiet is disastrous. Spurlock gains nearly 10 pounds in one week and has violent chest pains, vomiting and I can only assume bad digestion and diarrhea. Even his girlfriend is let down by his ability to "perform" in bed. At one point his weight goes down a pound, but that's probably because he is losing muscle mass and gaining fat. What's even sadder is Spurlock slowly begins to become adjusted to the food that is slowly consuming him.
The documentary also intercuts with stories involving those girls that tried to sue the McD's corporation, the horrible food used in high school cafeterias, talk about how the corporations use their marketing to keep people coming back (there was a McDonalds commercial about a year ago when they advertised free Supersized drink and fries if you purchased a meal, and sales shot through the roof) and some horrific scenes involving bypass surgery to those whose food consumption has went too far. There's even mention of Don Gorske, the Big Mac aficionado (who looks like someone directly out of the pages of a Harvey Pekar comic) who eats nothing but Big Macs and maintains a fairly decent waistline.
Spurlock isn't saying that we should cut McDonalds out of our life for good. Rather, only go to these places in moderation (once or even twice a month isn't out of the question) and also include a healthy lifestyle with fruit and vegetables in your diet, as well as exercise. (I personally recommend swimming once or twice weekly.) And keep your portions small, because you can really CAN get full on a regular fries, a small drink and a Big Mac. Try it sometime.
"Super-Size Me" isn't a perfect documentary, mind you; I could have done without some cringe-inducing scenes of surgery being performed, and sometimes Spurlock goes overboard with facts and numbers that are really common knowledge, yet they're passed off like they've never been mentioned before.
That said, the film does raise enough important issues. Already in our society, we're seeing a change in food options. Even in fast food places, there are healthier ways to eat. Bottled water is so prominent in convenience stores that it almost outdoes the soda racks now. And remember Jared, the Subway guy? Featured in this film, he was a man who lost lots of weight by getting more active and eating Subway sandwiches (which can NOT be healthy for you if you pick the Meatball and top it with five sauces), but that angle was just a hook to sell more Subway. There's a scene in the film where a teenage girl meets Jared, but immediately thinks she can't lose weight on the "Subway Diet" because she can't afford it.
Being a Canadian, I must bring up some of the differences in the fast food outlets here. While McDonalds IS omnipresent and in every WalMart, the food portions in the US aren't as large here. In fact, that 44oz. soda that the American McDonalds have doesn't even exist here -- the 32oz. "Large" is the biggest we get. And our Supersized fry container is their large. As well, meat portions and even the Chicken McNuggets are of a slightly smaller size. Which is not to say it's healthier, but more of a placebo effect where our mind thinks it's the same, we get as full, but we haven't had as much. What's amusing is McDonalds is doing away with their super-size option at year's end in the US. They claim that this documentary had nothing to do with their decision. Make of that what you will.While "Super-Size Me" is subjected primarily at the United States which is the fattest country on this planet, it means a lot to most parts of the world, and for anyone who eats bad food constantly without thinking of the end result. And there was a documentary filmmaker crazy enough to do that for one solid month. But hamburgers are still pretty tasty food, and one thing is for sure...The next time I'm down in Los Angeles, there's no documentary that will make me stop from going to In-N-Out burger.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8631&reviewer=350
originally posted: 05/24/04 03:15:09
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