Morgan Spurlock as Himself
Ronald MacDonald as Himself
Dr. Darryl Isaacs, M.D. Internal Medicine
Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, D.O. as his Gastroentomologist & Hepatologist
Dr. Stephen Siegel, M.D. as his Cardiologist
Bridget Bennett, MS, RD as his Nutritionist
Eric Rowley as his Exercise Physiologist
Alexandra Jamieson as his Vegan Chef Girlfriend
Dr. David Sather as Former U.S. Surgeon General
John Banzhaf, III as Professor of Law, George Washington University
John Robbins as Author, “Diet of a New America”
Don Gorske as Big Mac Enthusiast
After hearing about the two high school girls who sued McDonalds over their obesity, Morgan Spurlock decided to become his own test subject in an experiment to discover if the food is really as bad they claimed. Eating only McDonalds’ food for three meals a day for a month, Spurlock enlisted the aid of three different doctors and a nutritionist to document the effects of the McDonald’s only diet on his body and mind. The results are shocking.
Despite being made in less than a year, Super Size Me is a lofty project and a top-notch documentary, as Morgan Spurlock eagerly takes the reins from noted documentarian, Michael (Bowling For Columbine) Moore. Over the course of the month-long experiment, Spurlock shot over 250 hours of footage and traveled to different cities across the cities, but Super Size Me is not just a document of Spurlock’s seemingly insane mission, but an intensive study about fast food and the causes of obesity in the United States. The amount of research put into getting the facts is as thorough as any episode of 20/20, and the information and statistics are backed by interviews from many experts in the fields of nutrition, American culture, and marketing. Some of the interviews are a bit lighter like the guy known as Big Mac, because he had literally eaten thousands of them over his lifetime.
As interesting and informative that data is, it’s not nearly as powerful as watching Spurlock’s own struggle to meet the challenge he has put on himself. The rules are fairly simple: he can only eat food offered over the counter at McDonald’s, he must eat three meals a day, and if they ask him to “super size” it, he must accept. At first, he seems to enjoy the chance to gorge on fast food, but Spurlock’s demeanor changes along with his physique over the course of the movie. In a matter of weeks, he has gained over twenty pounds, his cholesterol has skyrocketed, and he has put himself in danger of liver failure. The addictive nature of the food causes him severe depression, causing his girlfriend-a Vegan chef, no less!-to worry about the permanent damage he is doing to his body and health with the experiment. As the doctors warn him to stop his crusade, you wish that you can reach into the movie and shake him out of his insistence on finishing his crusade.
Although the topic is fairly serious, the movie is amusing due to Spurlock’s good-natured sense of humor, keeping things light despite what his body is being put through. The animations and graphics used to depict Spurlock’s data are as entertainig as they are informative, right down to the kitschy clown paintings Spurlock uses to introduce each segment of the film. Spurlock’s sense of humor even carries over to his choice of music, opening the movie with Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls” and introducing the section on the addictive qualities of fast food with Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman.” Showing an actual gastric bypass operation to the tune of the “Blue Danube Waltz”, while a bit gross to watch, borders on pure genius.
Sadly, the data Spurlock gathered doesn’t help with the original lawsuit. It’s also a shame that he was never was able to reach a spokesman for McDonalds, as that would have been the perfect capper for the movie. Of course, he also doesn’t resort to any of the guerilla tactics used by Michael Moore to get into so many doors.
Still, Spurlock’s plan seemingly worked, because six weeks after the movie’s high profile debut at the Sundance Film Festival, McDonalds discontinued their “Super Size” program. Of course, the company denied that it had anything to do with Spurlock’s film, but a few weeks later, McDonalds’ CEO died of a heart attack, making one think that the decision came a little too late.
The Bottom Line:
Funny, entertaining and educational all at once, Super Size Me is on its way to being one of the best documentaries of the year, a brilliant movie that should not be seen on an empty stomach or a full one, for that matter. Obviously, the McDonalds Corporation won’t want you to see it at all, as the chances of you eating their food after seeing it is fairly slim. Most of all, the movie makes it clear that Spurlock is a filmmaker to watch, because whatever topic he chooses to cover next should be as insightful and creative as this one.
Super Size Me opens in twenty-fives cities nationwide on Friday, and then opens throughout the country in May. Check the ‘More Info’ above for the Official Web Site to find when it’s playing near you.