Healthy Lifestyle
Fitness, Nutrition and Overall Personal Wellness
Super Size Me

Director: Morgan Spurlock; Release Date: February 28, 2005

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Thank You, Captain Obvious!

  • Jan 14, 2009
Pros: It attacks school lunches.

Cons: Is Spurlock asking for food regulation?

The Bottom Line: Wow, I hated this thing more than I thought.

McDonald's currently stands among the unholy trinity of corporate wrongdoing. (They share their spot with Disney and Microsoft.) Whether they've studied the reports and statistics or you're just giving in to peer pressure, a LOT of people profess to hate McDonald's. And why not? This is the corporation, after all, that was hurt when the term "McJob" was given a dictionary definition and officially made part of the lexicon. But instead of exploring the reasons why, Mickey D's decided it would be better off suing the dictionary publishers. If Morgan Spurlock had wanted to attack McDonald's over hiring policies or negative community impact or some shady thing we may not know about, I would be all ears. But instead, Spurlock makes a mistake and goes gunning for the food.

I'm a major foodie. I very deeply resent people giving me any kind of preachy moralistic crap on why I should or shouldn't follow certain dietary restrictions. And in Super Size Me, Spurlock not only attempts to apply moral value to selling food, he also says it's perfectly okay to sue McDonald's if you happen to get fat from eating too much of their food. In the beginning of the film, Spurlock interviews people who all agree that that lawsuit was very stupid. One guy says if he was the judge, he would throw out the lawsuit. In my opinion, that's being too lenient. If I were the judge in that scenario, not only is the case getting tossed, but the plaintiff is also getting a fine for wasting the court's valuable time and his lawyer is being stripped of his license. 

The gist of Spurlock's publicity stunt is this: Spurlock eats three complete meals at McDonald's every day for a month. He tries everything on the menu. If an employee asks him to Super Size the meal, he has to accept. Now, just how many people do you think actually do this? I can't think of any. What's more is that Spurlock goes into this idiotic project immediately from a healthy lifestyle and a strict vegan diet. He hired three doctors and a nutritional expert to help him for this project. Did Spurlock offer the information that he was a vegan? If he had, any doctor worth anything at all should have told him that his body wouldn't have been ready for the fat and sugar onslaught. As a result of this oversight, we are treated to a graceful sight of Spurlock puking up a lung in the early goings of the project. 

Let's dumb that explanation down a little: A filmmaker embarks on a project which everyone already knows will be extremely dangerous to his health. There's not a whole lot going on in Super Size Me; we see many shots of Spurlock wisecracking as he finishes off his latest McMeal. We also see a handful of scenes showing the consequences. We see a scene of some poor guy having gastric bypass surgery. Super Size Me is one of the more disgusting movies I've seen in awhile. And just what point is our valiant hero trying to make? The point that too much McDonald's can be harmful to one's health. Yeah, there's a point that a lot of people don't already know themselves. Thanks, Captain Obvious! 

There is also a scene in which Spurlock shows flash cards to little kids to exhibit the point that kids know Ronald McDonald better than George Washington. There are some things which can be chalked up to things being the way they are now, and this is one of them. I'm utterly failing to see some terrible sociological crisis here. 

Since just showing his own monthlong Mickey D's binge would have made Super Size Me very boring, Spurlock goes down a few other roads too. The best - and in fact the only real useful - road is an attack on school lunch programs. This is sorely needed. Anyone who doesn't think school lunches are a problem has to have been home-schooled. Spurlock also interviews people inside the corporate food industry, as well as the lawyer of a couple of young girls who decided to sue McDonald's for making them fat. Spurlock even interviews his own girlfriend, who admits he's not quite performing as well as he used to. Toward the end of the movie, Spurlock makes it a point to mention that he felt addicted and that being away from McDonald's made him depressed. When he ate, he felt happy again. How heartwarming. I wonder if other McDonald's customers felt that way, because Spurlock didn't bother to find anyone else who ate three meals a day at McDonald's for a month.

The thing that really disturbs me about Super Size Me is the message Spurlock is sending. Telling you to cut back on junk food is one thing. But Spurlock goes much further than that. First, he assaults common sense and shirks personal responsibility by saying that it's okay to blame a corporation for making you fat! He even points out how big drink holders in cars are getting. Is Spurlock attempting to bring government regulation into our food now? Or is he merely expecting McDonald's to begin supplying customers with their own personal doctors and dietary consultants every time they feel a Big Mac attack coming on? Spurlock mentions corporate responsibility. The corporate responsibility of McDonald's is to take money and give food in return which isn't rotten or poisonous. Ronald McDonald is a mascot, not your cardiologist or child's babysitter! 

One of the most disturbing scenes in Super Size Me involved an interview with a slightly overweight McDonald's worker. The young woman made the common but still very valid point that there are a lot of overweight people who think they're supposed to be naturally thin. Spurlock kind of glosses over the scene by slowly slapping cutouts of models over the shot. I can see why he does it - in a way, it gets in the way of his theme. The poor girl is trying to tell everyone how she feels about the pressure of trying to stay thin, and she's doing it in a movie which subtly tells people that fatty foods are evil - not BAD, but EVIL. By downplaying this inconvenient little idea which has been pushed to the forefront time and again, Spurlock has officially decided he wants to become a part of the problem.

For all we heard about the Super Size thing, Spurlock says he was only asked to Super Size his meal nine times. Nine out of 30 is close to one in three. A few times, but hardly enough to make me believe McDonald's is actively trying to kill you with cholesteral. 

What was the point? Sure, the school lunch business was dead on. But that's all. Spurlock is trying to cover ground which Upton Sinclair attacked a century ago. The difference is that back then, there were no available charts on the rotten, maggot-infested meat Sinclair wrote about in The Jungle. And the problem in Sinclair's time was a lot bigger. Furthermore, Sinclair actually came off as a consumer advocate who only wanted to protect Americans from potentially deadly meat. Spurlock is just trying to make you feel bad about not regulating your junk food. 

Who's hungry? 


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September 06, 2012
Well done. Like Orwell, Sinclair was the best variant of both social critic and socialist: he who refused to accept the statist lie that government can be expected to curtail the abuses and excesses of the private sector, recognized and exploited literature as the ideal medium in which to address sociopolitical and socioeconomic issues and understood that healthy (though regulated) markets were no less important than essential labor rights.

Perhaps it is extant in my ignorance, but I'd much prefer to see an vituperative documentary in censure of the abysmal U.S. school system - its aforementioned emetic lunches, thuggish teachers' unions, predominance of sports to the absolute detriment of erudition and especially that appalling curriculum, by which students are taught by dint of rote memorization rather than the engagement and excitation of intellect, and are inculcated with diachronic falsehoods and values advantageous to and approved by the political class in the employ of special interests. Americans are not benighted, docile, undiscerning Philistines because their parenting and schooling was at all adequate.
September 06, 2012
I've heard good things about one called Waiting for Superman, but I haven't seen it yet.
More Super Size Me reviews
Quick Tip by . September 05, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
What can I say?  This is ridiculously stupid for the fact that Morgan Spurlock tries to point out how unhealthy McDonald's food is by eating it for a whole month.  Of course if you eat crap like that for a month, you're gonna get tons of health problems.  But really, if you eat too much of anything, even healthy foods (such as only eating fruit for a whole month), you're gonna get sick one way or another.  Moderation is the key for everything.      …
review by . May 14, 2010
posted in Healthy Lifestyle
   Super Size Me inspired my family's love of quirky documentaries. (Super Size Me is also joined by the classic Best In Show Mockumentary on our list of favorites.) Though we first saw Super Size Me a few years ago it is in our DVD library and we have watched it several times. And our youngest daughter used Spurlock's findings in a recent term paper.       Though this documentary was just the beginning of our awareness of what you eat can kill you, Super Size Me made …
review by . June 14, 2007
Pros: One can take McDonald's playland balls and hurl them at certain DVD cases     Cons: Disgusting, inappropriate, and off-topic     The Bottom Line: Watch this if assigned to, or if you have a stomach of iron.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie''s plot. Turn Up the Valium      I was first exposed to this documentary in a rhetoric class. After inserting the DVD, she asked us to let her …
review by . July 12, 2004
Pros: Insightful, funny, takes on the giant of McDonalds -      Cons: Crushing indictment on American culture and lack of exercise and junk food nutrition     The Bottom Line: Excellent documentary - recommend to family & friends. Will never think about fast food in the same way again.     The term popularized decades ago now takes on a new meaning ugly as in huge, obese, lazy, people. I had read up on the film and knew the general idea …
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Nicholas Croston ()
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this movie


In this hilarious yet informative documentary, debut director Morgan Spurlock makes himself the victim of a cruel experiment: he puts himself on a 30-day diet of nothing but McDonald's food. Eating three meals a day exclusively from McDonald's, Spurlock's health quickly deteriorates. The film documents the process from beginning to end, with Spurlock and his doctors making observations and monitoring the changes to his energy level, moods, liver and kidney function, and obviously his weight. As viewers might predict, Spurlock gains weight at an alarming rate, and during this process he offers a shocking lesson about the serious problem of obesity in America. Clearly McDonald's receives the brunt of the blame, as Spurlock shows how the fast-food restaurant directs its advertising at small children, who are converted into faithful consumers of the brand--and its free toy giveaways, bright colors, and Ronald McDonald clown--for life. Spurlock also examines the quality of the food itself, showing the process...
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Director: Morgan Spurlock
Genre: Documentary
Release Date: 2004, May 7, 2004
MPAA Rating: R, PG-13
Runtime: 1hr 36min
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