Super Size Me takes a stomach-turning look at American-style eating
Fed up with our country's eating habits, Morgan Spurlock decided to launch his own Big Mac Attack. For 30 days in a row, he would eat only at McDonald's -- three square meals a day, super-sized if the person behind the counter suggested the idea. The result is a combination publicity stunt, performance piece and muckraking documentary called Super Size Me, which Michael Moore must be kicking himself in the butt for not having thought of first. Like Moore, Spurlock puts himself front and center in a campaign to expose the corporate greed that guides so much of American life. There's even a Roger & Me element when Spurlock tries to contact the CEO of McDonald's. But not even Moore has undergone the Extreme Makeover that Spurlock signed up for. Monitored by a team of physicians, he gained 25 pounds while his cholesterol shot up from 165 to 230 and his liver, according to one of the docs, turned into pâté.
The numbers are shocking enough to make the whole thing worth Spurlock's while, and you have to believe some part of him was secretly delighted with how quickly his body was falling apart. An amiable guy without Moore's feel for the jugular, Spurlock crisscrosses the country, feeding his face and preaching to various members of the choir -- former Surgeon General David Satcher, for instance, who declared an obesity epidemic during his tenure. He also speaks to some fast-food enthusiasts -- Wisconsin's own Don Gorske, for instance, who claims to have eaten two Big Macs a day for years. That Gorske at least appears to be in fine health, with no extra quarter-pounds around his waist, doesn't seem to faze Spurlock. Super Size Me doesn't even pretend to be evenhanded, but at least Spurlock doesn't play fast and loose with the facts, as Moore often does.
Then again, Moore has the biting wit of a political firebrand, whereas Spurlock seems content to munch on his fries. The movie provides all sorts of infotainment, much of it already familiar to anybody who's read (or just read about) Fast Food Nation and Fat Land. But the real meat of the matter is Spurlock's transformation from a young man in excellent health to an overweight slob with asthma, chest pains, heart palpitations and an inability to "please" his girlfriend. Early on, we get to see him vomit out the window of his car. And before that, we get to see his pre-binge rectal exam. Hey, thanks for sharing! But it's hard to shake the feeling that, when it's all fed and done, Super Size Me isn't a little junk-food-ish itself. It tastes great on the way down, but it just doesn't feel like a well-balanced meal. Then again, McDonald's has decided to cut back on its super-sizing, although it claims Spurlock had nothing to do with its decision.
What a Kroc.