On the heels of the best selling book Fast Food Nation, and the recent suit filed against McDonald’s, claiming that the company’s food led to obesity, Morgan Spurlock chows the unthinkable.
In his documentary film Super Size Me, the thirty something screenwriter/film dares himself to eat McDonald’s three times a day for thirty days straight. Perhaps an eleven-year old’s dream and a nutritionist’s nightmare, Spurlock puts his health up against his iron stomache by engulfing enough Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, Chicken McNuggets and French Fries to make one ache, groan, waddle, fart, sweat, and glutton themselves into Shrek. Spurlock eats by the rules of ordering everything on the McDonald’s menu at least once, and only super sizes upon being asked. By swearing to only devour food that McDonald’s offers, Spurlock even denies himself a soothing pinch of aspirin or Pepto-Bismal. Instead he downs all the grease, sugar and fat like a starving inmate, which includes consistent finishings of his 42 ounce super sized Coke alongside every salty and damp french fry.
In true Michael Moore fashion, Spurlock reveals the ills of our nation. This time it comes across as outrageously obese, due to mass media marketing of fast food and our go-go society. With McDonald’s on every street corner, its too easy to fall into the trap, although the corporation hast tried to prove that their fare could indeed be part of a nutritious diet. Spurlock is out to prove them wrong.
With Spurlock’s Vegan chef girlfriend frowning and distressing along the way, he manages to eventually gain 25 pounds. Sure not a plethora of weight, but enough to make him appear nice and plump. Along with numerous ill side effects, including borderline impotence, Spurlock’s health hits the shitter. Whether pulling a hair out of a sundae, puking out the car window while eating a quarter pounder with cheese, getting the “McAches,” eventually leading to the “McCrazys,” Spurlock lets his vital organs take a beating. This human guinea pig certainly paid the price by visiting McDonald’s in Texas, California, Illinois and New York. Around day 23, the doctors begin to drop hints of death and cancer after one of his weekly visits. But like a self-destructive alchoholic, Spurlock keeps on binging.
Along with visits to schools, analyzing the “junk” forced upon children, and their overwhelming recognition of McDonald’s characters in contrast to pictures of our nation’s presidents, the report is more than revealing. However, it would have been nice to witness more of the side effects suffered by Spurlock and the dire domestic consequences of his McDonald’s related depression and high cholesterol. Other than a few couch naps and a shot of Spurlock huffing and puffing up the stairs, the visual effects of fast food are mainly left to the imagination.
Weeks after Super Size Me premiered, it won the documentary director’s prize at January’s Sundance Film Festival. Soon after, McDonald’s announced that it was eliminating its “super size” options, all while claiming that Spurlock’s documentary was unfair and the menu change had nothing to do with the movie. Either way, after this film, you’ll be sure to skip on the fries and maybe even the whole red and yellow building while your stomache is growling on a deserted highway.