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Super Size Me (2004)

  Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Written by: Morgan Spurlock
Starring: Morgan Spurlock
Links: Super Size Me on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD
Genre: Documentary

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Super Size Me (2004) is also mentioned in timchuma's review of Comrades: Almost a Love Story (1996), pearly's review of McLibel (2005) and pearly's review of Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004).

"Keep your eyes on your liver" - a review by pearly

Morgan Spurlock has, in one fell swoop, chucked himself into the new breed of documentary film-makers, the ones who come into a piece with the outcome already quite clear in their heads, and who don't mind a bit of exaggeration, as long as it helps to get their point across. Super Size Me has been described as the fast food version of Bowling for Columbine (2002), and it's an apt title: both films have the same kind of air to them.

Spurlock himself even almost comes across as a sort-of younger and skinnier (to begin with, anyway) version of Michael Moore. His aim seems to be to educate while entertaining, with his method of entertaining being throwing up outside his car window after eating too much Mickey D's, whilst Moore's style is a bit more satirical.

So what is all the fuss about? The documentary is, put simply, a month in the life of Spurlock where he consumes only things which can be bought from McDonald's. Put a little less simply, Spurlock has vowed that for one month, he will eat and drink only what he can purchase from McDonald's (including water - he will only drink water if the particular Maccas he goes to that day sells it), and he must, over the course of the month, have everything on the menu at least once (this so that people cannot later claim that he has chosen only the worst, fattiest items). As well as this, he will limit his exercise, in that he will do less than 5000 steps per day. If he is in danger of going over this, he'll hop a cab.

Super Size Me isn't perfect. And I don't think Spurlock was even trying to make it so. He's really just trying to get the message out there, just like Merlin was when he got evicted from the Big Brother house, but perhaps more effectively. And the message is that fast food isn't really all that good for you.

Since its release, the film has been criticised, as would be expected. McDonald's Australia has even put out ads on TV and info on their site talking about "That Movie", as they call it, and how ridiculous and misleading they think it is. And sure, if you haven't seen the film and you just hear the concept in the context of a brief review like this, then you might agree with that assessment. And, as I mentioned before, some aspects of the documentary are exaggerated for effect. But the way that Spurlock has set up his investigation is not just out of the blue - he offers pretty good reasoning for his decisions.

On choosing to eat nothing but Maccas, Spurlock argues that whilst it's unheard of for people to have a Maccas-only diet, there are many people in America who have pancakes for breakfast, KFC for lunch, and a pizza for dinner, and people that do this almost every day, a diet which he argues is not dissimilar to the one he subjects himself to. And as for the exercise, Spurlock bases this on statistics about the average distance many office workers and the like walk in a day. What he's trying to say is that even though he's simplified the habits of typical Americans to get his point across, what he's doing is not radically different to the way in which many Americans live their everyday lives.

Possibly even more interesting than the main storyline are the two other major things that are discussed. Firstly, Spurlock's girlfriend is a vegan chef, which adds a whole extra dimension to the story, as she's always on the sidelines expressing her disgust. And secondly, there's a fairly lengthy section about schools, and the types of foods that are served in the young kiddie's cafeterias. This bit made a nice break from the Maccas storyline, and was, to the far-away Aussie chick, quite an eye-opener.

By the way, Spurlock, lose the moustache. Please.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 17 Jun 2004

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Reader comments

  1. If he were really like Merlin from Big Brother, the film would be called "Super Siz Me"

    A comment from nofreelist's own mino on Thu 17 Jun 2004 16:54 #

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