I recently re-watched Super Size Me (2004, dir. Morgan Spurlock), a documentary film about our troubled relationship with a certain red and yellow fast food restaurant chain, and one man’s quest to push his body to the limit of its saturated fat intake. A synopsis:
While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald’s food for one month. (source)
Here are some of my thoughts on Super Size Me.
- Surprise: Junk food isn’t good for you!
- Seriously, not that much of a surprise, but this is an entertaining documentary.
- The fact that it’s from 2004 and pretty much all of the statistics aren’t relevant anymore is a slight hitch, but Super Size Me works as a time capsule of a moment in world history where McDonald’s didn’t have that much accountability in terms of what they were making people eat.
- I remember watching this back in 2004 and swearing that I would never eat McDonald’s ever again, which lasted about a week until I had a cheeky pack of six nuggets after school and felt really bad about it. The point of that sentence is that junk food is delicious and no one can deny its hold on everyone’s subconscious, even when you know how bad it is for you.
- Morgan Spurlock is an interesting protagonist on this culinary journey but it still seems crazy that he put himself through this mess and in such physical danger.
- Spurlock is a smart alec (as is his vegan chef girlfriend), and is at times difficult to engage with as a result, but on the whole his inquisitive attitude about the McDonald’s menu saves the film from being totally disgusting.
- Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore are often mentioned in the same sentence in terms of their documentary filmmaking, but I think Spurlock is generally less infuriating.
- My favourite thing about this film (other than its wry sense of humour) is the art by Ron English which serves as delineating title cards for each segment of the film. Here is a selection of them. The art is vibrant and disturbing, which fits with the overall feel of the film.
- Super Size Me also makes some valid points about how certain American junk food companies are stakeholders in the ill health and obesity of the people who eat their food.
- The novelty of the “McDonald’s diet for the month” storyline is kind of like a lure so that the documentary can tell you about the evils of junk food corporations, as this feels like the dominant theme towards the end. Not a bad thing, just an interesting note on the marketing of the film.
- Lastly, as a result of the outdated stats, this may not be that much of a relevant film nowadays. We have films like Food, Inc. (2008) and Forks Over Knives (2011) nowadays to teach us about good food. But as aforementioned, it’s an interesting one to revisit.
Watch the trailer here.