ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Would you like to Super Size that?
Super Size Me
Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
By David Lee
I used to enjoy eating at McDonald’s. After seeing this independent
documentary, such a proposition is highly unlikely — for the short term,
As a film that bills itself as being of “epic portions,” Super
Size Me never takes itself too seriously. Much like Michael Moore in so-called “mockumentaries” like
Bowling for Columbine, writer/director Morgan Spurlock is also the star of
the film. In addition to conducting interviews and asking tough questions,
Spurlock becomes a human guinea pig.
The premise of Super Size Me is simple: Spurlock starts on a month-long diet
of nothing but McDonald’s products. He cannot eat anything that isn’t
on the menu and he only gets the super sized fries and drink if asked to do
so. To help document his “one month McDonald’s binge,” Spurlock
enlists the help of various doctors and dietitians. Though they continually
warn him to stop the diet — and thus, the film — Spurlock sees
his mission through to the end.
The effects of the diet are shocking. Not only does Spurlock gain 25 pounds,
he becomes depressed, his libido declines and he only feels comfortable while
he’s eating. Worst of all, his liver starts to show extreme symptoms
usually associated with the livers of alcoholics. All of his doctors are shocked
that a fast food-only diet could cause such harm.
Ostensibly, a documentary tries to remain objective and refrains from editorializing.
Super Size Me never tries to hide its intentions — this is McDonald’s
bashing, plain and simple. Shot selection includes Spurlock vomiting from a
car and a late-night confessional about depression. If you want fair and objective,
try Ken Burns.
That’s not to say the film is without its positives. One of the film’s
highlights arises from Spurlock showing a group of primary students faces on
flash cards. While nobody recognizes George Washington and one child mistakes
Jesus Christ for George W. Bush, the one face that everyone recognizes is Ronald
Not surprisingly, McDonald’s has already fired back, claiming that Spurlock
is trying to shock instead of inform and that his extreme diet was not indicative
of what one of McDonald’s heavy users (the name given by the company
to its frequent customers) would actually eat in a month.
No matter what you think of the film and its biases, perhaps its greatest
effect is that it acts as a springboard to discussion. Leaving the theatre,
you’re likely to hear other moviegoers saying things like “I’m
never going to eat fast food again” and “I didn’t realize
there was so much sugar in pop.” You’ll even find people (yours
truly included) who are instantaneously spurred to exercise more, eat right
and take better care of themselves.
For anyone interested in McDonald’s or fast food culture in general,
Super Size Me is definitely worth seeing. While objectivity may fly right out
the window, the film is nevertheless an entertaining ride. Just make sure you
arrive on an empty stomach.