Super Size Me (2004) (PG)

"Super Size Me" is not exactly an easy movie to watch, and I'm fairly positive it's not something that could be made today. Morgan Spurlock's style reminds one immediately of a masochistic Michael Moore yet the antics of the documentary itself seem to mock not only the specific company it bases its entire premise on, but on obese people in general. 
Recently Nicole Arbour got in a heap of trouble for making an now infamous YouTube video called "Dear Fat People"..."Super Size Me" at times feels like the predecessor for that video. Without delving into my own opinions on the matter, I think it is very safe to say that "Super Size Me" would need a lot of edits if it were to be aired today, considering the movement pushing towards body positive thinking.
Yet the movie begins with Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" playing the background as the camera ogles the butts of fat people while Spurlock spits out the same message that Arbour claimed her video was about: obesity is a problem.
Spurlock became interested in fast food when two girls sued McDonald's. The judge of the case claimed that they would need to prove that the fast food joint intended for all people to eat every meal at their establishment and that it would dramatically harm an individual's health. 
So, like any other rational person in his place, Spurlock decides that he is going to eat nothing else but McDonald's food for an entire month under the supervision of three doctors, nutritionists, and his own vegan chef girlfriend.
The first time he eats an entire super sized meal he vomits out the side of the car and the camera follows every thing he does with painstaking attention. It becomes clear that this is a do or die situation for Spurlock and he is dead set on proving a that gets muddled with all the personal drama of the situation.
As the documentary continues, something really fascinating happens: you start to care about Morgan Spurlock as a person. This arises out of interviews with his girlfriend and her comments on his rapidly deteriorating condition. As we see his health plummet (for there is no other word for it), we begin to actually become concerned for him and that's where the movie is the strongest.
As a documentary that is aimed to take down McDonald's there is less time spent on what actually goes into the processing of the foods themselves (the infamous Big Mac, for example never gets this scrutiny) and more time on the effect that they have on Spurlock. For this, the documentary is very focused and shouldn't be taken as the broad coup de gras against fast food that Spurlock was intending. However, we can't write off his experiences entirely because we watch him gain almost 25 pounds in a month and we see his vitals and bloodwork go haywire as a result of this and the analogy the doctors keep using is binge drinking. Spurlock's liver looks like he is an alcoholic.
"Super Size Me" is not easy to watch and often frustrating. It's the kind of movie that will make me probably never have a McDonald's meal again but also think twice about watching Morgan Spurlock movies. The man isn't funny or enjoyable to watch and he doesn't have the charisma of other documentarians. Still, he makes a solid movie which is watchable the whole way through.
I wouldn't recommend it before lunch time, though.

Score: ★★★

1 comment:

  1. Loved this movie - since I saw it 12 years ago, I must say I have cut my fast-food consumption by at least 60%. I opccasionally still indulge, but feel guilty and try to make it a once-in-a-blue-moon comfort treat...
    I love your writing and your taste in movies, Micah!