Worth A Look: 27.85%
Pretty Bad: 1.27%
Total Crap: 5.7%
9 reviews, 104 user ratings
|Super Size Me
by Collin Souter
No doubt by now you’ve heard of this film. It has been one of the most talked about films of this year. Many continue to debate its merits and to question their own beliefs. It is a movie about a man who gave of himself so that we may benefit, a man who sacrificed his well being so that we may gain from his wisdom. It is about a man who endured severe torture so that we could all be saved. He had a message, and through this film that message has caused many of us to ponder the weight of our own existence. His act of passion has changed lives, both for the better and for the worse. It is a challenging, grueling, stomach churning and, above all, important film made by a man who had the courage to challenge the system and make a difference.I’m speaking, of course, of Morgan Spurlock, director and star of the documentary “Super Size Me,” in which Spurlock eats nothing but McDonalds food for 30 days. “Super Size Me” opened here in Chicago the same week as the obnoxious and bloated summer blockbuster “Van Helsing,” yet in many ways Spurlock’s movie seems to be the more popular of the two. “Have you heard about that movie about the guy who eats nothing but McDonalds for 30 days?” people have been asking all weekend. It’s too bad not everyone has access to this movie the same way they have access to the Olsen Twins movie, but given the press this movie has obtained, it certainly won’t wallow in obscurity either.
"'Fear Factor' with a social conscience"
Thank goodness. More than a stunt movie or a prolonged episode of “Fear Factor,” Spurlock’s documentary delves deep into what might be the root causes for America’s growing waistlines. It only makes sense that the center of this investigation be the food chain that started it all. Why do people eat McDonalds knowing how bad it can be for you? What do people know about the food on the menus? Why is it so hard to obtain a copy of the nutritional fact sheet regarding McDonalds’ food? Are the hot lunches in the public school system any healthier than a 2-cheeseburger value meal? Why on earth would anybody need to Super Size anything?
The last question needs no answer. As stated at the end of the film, six weeks after “Super Size Me” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, McDonalds removed the Super Size option from their menu insisting that Spurlock’s film had nothing to do with it. Yet, Spurlock’s sole approach is not to call out the evils of Corporate America for lying to consumers. That would be too easy. Instead, Spurlock calls out for all of us to take responsibility for our actions. I suppose it’s a smart PR move for McDonalds to not acknowledge Spurlock’s movie, but unlike Michael Moore’s “Roger & Me,” Spurlock is out for bigger game than just Everyman vs. Corporate Entity.
The stunt at the center of “Super Size Me” consists of more than “Let’s see what’ll happen if I eat McDonalds for 30 days. Ya’ dare me?” Prior to Spurlock’s actions, there had been little data regarding the addictive nature of fast food. Like many of us, Spurlock heard all about the lawsuits filed against many fast food chains by obese people claiming “fast food made them fat” and reacted with stunned disbelief. With the aid of three physicians, a nutritionist and the reluctant blessing of his vegan girlfriend, Spurlock went ahead with the experiment with a few ground rules:
1. If McDonalds didn’t serve it, he couldn’t eat it.
2. He had to try everything on the menu at least once.
3. He had to finish everything.
Throughout this epicureal journey, Spurlock takes us on a road trip through Texas, Illinois and California to various McDonalds locations and to public school cafeterias where we learn that kids most likely have nothing but carbonated beverages, chips and candy for lunch. Furthermore, the schools offer little more than burgers, pizza and tater tots for lunch, much of which comes out of a box that has been in a freezer for who-knows-how-long. We learn about Dan Gorske, a man famous for eating nothing but Big Macs (Miraculously, he is not overweight). Most alarmingly, we learn that kids have an easier time recognizing Ronald McDonald than they do Jesus Christ.
After a while, Spurlock’s binging take such a toll on his system, we wonder how on earth his 20th Quarter Pounder won’t end up being his last supper. As expected, he gains a lot of pounds, but at an unexpected and unpredictable rate. His cholesterol also skyrockets. Yet, nobody counted on the life-threatening extremes the food’s effect would have on Spurlock. He became depressed, almost sexually inactive and, yes, addicted. Spurlock had been in near-perfect health at the beginning of the film and it makes sense that he would balloon before our very eyes, but the image of that clown with the red hair and the yellow suit only becomes more haunting and sinister as Spurlock’s stunt progresses.
It helps that we like Morgan Spurlock. He is a very funny and charming guy and has made a fast-paced, thorough and hilarious movie. I only wish I knew more about him and why he chose to take on this cause. In order to make a great documentary, one has to have an insane amount of passion for their subject. Since Spurlock is practically his own subject, I really wanted to know what drove him personally to do this sort of thing and if he has ever attempted anything like it in the past. I cared about his cause and whether or not he would make it, but I still walked out wondering why he did it in the first place (more than just to prove a point about fast food).Still, “Super Size Me” is easily the most entertaining movie out there right now and I still have a few questions about McDonalds that I would like answering. For instance, is there any truth to the notion that chains such as McDonalds and Burger King purposely leak that familiar fast food smell from their establishments because they found it elicits a Pavlovian response from consumers? Also, why do they call it a Double Quarter Pounder? Wouldn’t it be easier just to call it a Half Pounder? Or did the Powers That Be figure that would be too many numbers on the menu for people to handle? They may be right. As Spurlock finds out, some people know the Big Mac rap better than they know The Pledge of Allegiance. Jesus Christ, what the hell is in this food anyway?
link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8631&reviewer=233
originally posted: 05/10/04 14:47:19
|OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.