Super Size Me (USA; 96 min.)

directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Super Size Me
Diane says: "I recommend this rich docu by Morgan Spurlock, the engaging 'star' of the
film, who went on a diet of pure McDonald's for 30 days. Along the lines of a Michael Moore piece, Spurlock also travels the country talking to nutritionists, school lunch consumers, food lobbyists, and tries to get McDonald's reps to talk to him (here he could have used Moore's help with tactics). We follow Spurlock through his three meals a day and visits to the doctor. The results are shocking. He doesn't even have to go into the Fast Food Nation stuff about how the food is made--the damage to his body is enough to scare you.

"My gang especially liked the art work that Spurlock incorporates: paintings by an 'artistic genius' whose name I can't find now that feature Holly-Hobby-Zippy-demon-McDonaldized children. Special effects, editing, and graphics are all well-done. 5 cats.

"I will continue to eat McDonald's at my current rate of about once a year."

Bruce says: "If you have heard about or read Fast Food Nation you will appreciate the importance of SUPER SIZE ME. The premise is good and the findings are profound. 100 million Americans are overweight. 400,000 Americans deaths per year are attributed to weight-related problems. On third of all children born in the year 2000 will become diabetic. Today, fast food is mentioned more than any other source as a cause of health problems in the United States. Fast Food Nation does a better job of tying all the loose ends together, documenting how politics, agribusiness, clever advertising and promotions collude to provide fast food products that are unhealthy and possibly unsafe. SUPER SIZE ME focuses on fast food health issues.

"Children see an average of ten thousand food ads on TV each year. Fast food chains lure children with playgrounds, birthday parties, clowns, giveaways and tie-ins. Soft drink vendors and fast food chains are making giant inroad into school cafeterias where the products kids see on TV can be purchased. No matter that 36 grams of sugar were found in the Naperville IL lemonade or that a government subsidized school meal in West Virginia had 1196 calories. When two overweight teenage girls sued McDonalds in New York, Morgan Spurlock was intrigued. Could a case be made proving that fast food really was jeopardizing American health?

"To prove his point, Morgan embarks on a one month experiment of his own. He will eat three meals a day at McDonalds; he’ll super size whenever asked; and he will get medical check-ups each week. After his first super sizing, Morgan begins his tiresome commentary on the meal and vomits in front of the camera to prove to us just how disgusting it was. During the course of the month long experiment, Morgan wends his way cross country, making each stop look drearier than the last. His weight goes up; his sex drive goes down. His doctors worry about his liver, cholesterol level, blood pressure and lack of vitamin intake. In one month Morgan eats thirty pounds of sugar and twelve pounds of fat, which caused him to gain twenty five pounds.

"Morgan Spurlock would be more believable as a SNL performer than a diligent researcher, sociologist and filmmaker. He has a Keep on Truckin’ aura that has been updated for the millennium yet he falls seriously short of the role he should be playing. He is smug and cute in situations where neither is appropriate. That is the singular shortcoming of SUPER SIZE ME.

"The point of all Morgan’s antics is to entertain us while sending us a valuable message. Thank goodness the directors of CONTROL ROOM and THE CORPORATION did not stoop so low. Humor does have a place in serious documentary filmmaking; knowing how to use it separates the professionals from the dilettantes. I got a lot out of this film but I did not enjoy Morgan’s style. 3 cats"

Michael says: "The surprise (?) hit of the documentary circuit is a Michael Moore-wannabe experiment/rant to expose fast food companies as (gasp) morally bankrupt and only interested in making millions! Morgan Spurlock's exercise in extremism is entertaining, but as a film I found it lacking. He presents many of his fact in such a way that I questioned their believability. While some portions of the film were more successful than others (his look at cafeteria food in various public schools in America) overall the success of failure of the films depends largely on your feelings toward Spurlock himself, and as many who know me would be aware, I'm not a fan of extreme behavior. I found Spurlock more and more annoying as the film went on and in the end, his smug self-satisfaction really bugged me.

"That said, the films certainly has me thinking about my diet habits, but like a meal at McDonald's, I'm not sure it will have a lasting impact. 2 1/2 cats"

Rick says: "Startling discovery: We learn that a diet exclusively of McDonald's food is bad for you.

"Morgan Spurlock, while not an entirely unlikable guy, tries much too hard to entertain us. And well, the kids seem to like it and I'm told they keep packing 'em in at the Coolidge, so maybe he succeeded. I, for one, was not amused. Stylistically this documentary was annoyingly filled with irritating music/sound bites and flash images that reminded me of modern day MTV or one of those Channel 7 'Buyer Beware' or coyote alerts. The result of which was a film with an appauling lack of substance. So much more attention could have been spent on the impact of fast food lobbyists, the school lunch programs, historical trends, etc. Instead we are bombarded with 'Wow, look how bad this stuff is!!!' with flashes and bangs and shiny things. Mr. Spurlock comes off like a wannabe Michael Moore but ends up more like that guy from Jackass - but not nearly as fun.

"I will, however, say that Morgan Spurlock has quite the enviable mustache. 1.5 cats"