"Super Size Me"
Directed by Morgan Spurlock.
Written by Morgan Spurlock.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 5/2/04
The closing film for the 2004 Filmfest DC
was the new documentary by writer/director Morgan Spurlock, "Super
Size Me", so my buddy Mike "Yac" Iacovone and I took in the Sunday
afternoon show. Spurlock himself came to introduce the film,
which was a nice touch, and he even stuck around to hear fans scream
the praises of his new work afterwords.
Praises came easily since the film is just
so damned good. As most of you know by now, Spurlock's film
has garnered national acclaim over the last four months as it has
made its run from Sundance darling to critical bonanza; it has had
such an effect on the fast food culture that McDonald's
itself--although never publicly acknowledging the film--has decided
to phase its Super Size drink and fries sizes out of the lineup.
This is because of Spurlock's experiment, which details what happens
to a man that tries to eat only McDonald's food for 90 consecutive
meals...a claim that McDonald's said would not be harmful to the
average American if eaten in moderation.
As we find out over the course of the
film...boy, were they wrong. As Spurlock's three doctors and
his vegan girlfriend watch in horror over the next month, the
subject puts on weight, suffers a number of physical, psychological
& emotional effects and walks so little that he falls completely out
of shape. We knew this would happen all along, though, so what
does Spurlock have to really say to us about this current state of
Spurlock does a good job of addressing this
last question during various parts of the film; by consistently
showing that his experiment is meant to be extreme, he can
concentrate on giving us other aspects of America's fast food
culture that are meant to shock the average viewer, who may be
learning about some of these things for the first time. Most
alarming to me may have been the film's extended segment on school
cafeterias and the eating habits of today's children; not because
this was news to me (my two kid sisters have been alerting me to
this for years now, and I ate with my sister Cate at her school a
couple years ago), but because I was stunned to watch so many
children eating just candy and sodas for THEIR ENTIRE LUNCH in
interviews with the director. Even when I was a kid I know
that vegetables and fruits were not good friends of mine (at least
at lunch), but I remember drinking milk or water with a sandwich and
some pretzels or something like that...just a brief scene where
Spurlock talks to about a dozen kids at a lunch table, all of whom
are eating some form of Ding Dong, Ho-Ho or Twinkie with a Coke as
their LUNCH, not DESSERT for their lunch, I was sitting there
appalled. After the film, Spurlock talked about another
machine in that cafeteria that didn't get any screen time--a Slurpee
machine, straight outta 7-11!! They had this right next to the
pizza heat lamps! Brain freeze right there at school!
Spurlock's cameraman also does an incredible
job of finding large asses of extremely fat people better than any
cameraperson in the history of film. Some of the asses in
"Super Size Me" made audience members turn away, they were so large,
cottage-cheesy and just plain nasty. In fact, for my money, if
the MTV Movie Awards creates a category for Ass Work on Screen (much
like a hilarious parody MTV did last year with Vince Vaughn as some
made-up "Ass Technician" working on the "Charlie's Angels" films),
then "Super Size Me" will win major awards next year to add to its
Sundance Best Director Award. Now that I'm thinking about it,
this is the kind of film that overweight and obese people should
definitely see...but, from the fat shots, to the fat bashing that
many of its talking heads seem to enjoy, to the sheer "Hey Joe Obese
Guy, get on that treadmill!" message of the film, expect to be
uncomfortable if you are overweight as you watch this film, because
by the time we have to sit through a VERY tough-to-watch gastro-like
thingy (I'm forgetting the term for "tummy shrinking" surgery), a
lot of people in the theater were begging for mercy.
The mix of scenes as we watch Spurlock do
his McDiet matched with these informational pieces on the state of
the union in the U.S. does wonders for "Super Size Me", a great film
that starts out being a comedy and ends up teaching you a little
something about taking it easy on that Super/Biggie/Value-sized
drink. It won't change the world, but it might make you think
twice about those McNuggets...
(opens in major markets Friday; opens
nationwide soon after)
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard