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Reviews - Super Size Me

Super Size Me

Reviewed By Darren Horne

Food and sensible eating seems to be the topic of the day, with Jamie Oliver kicking at the door of number 10 to force the PM to notice that many of the current school dinners are literally destroying pupil’s health. It’s about time, we cheer, as the one thing that can unite the generations is a memory of school dinners that was far from appetising.
Combine this with our quirky American cousins turning their litigious eyes to the fast food firms who they blame for making them fat, and you have a media feeding frenzy.

Super Size Me is the journey of an American citizen, but this one isn’t like the stereotypes, he has a girlfriend that is a vegan chef which, and as anyone guy that has ever dated a vegetarian will know this has a huge impact on your own diet. Spurlock is fit, healthy, attractive, and charismatic and appears intelligent, though his participation in this film may challenge that.
With all the serious and intellectual media coverage the issue of healthy eating gets, Spurlock’s approach is some what refreshing, if not ill-advised. To silence the McDonalds PR machine who claim their food will not make people fat, he decides to eat from their gourmet menu three times a day for one month, and reduce his exercise to the level of the average American.

What begins as a fun and light hearted look at a guy gorging himself on Big Macs becomes a horrifying freak show of a man quickly and systematically destroying his body, causing weight gain of 20 pounds, mood swings, damage to his liver, and an increase in cholesterol. He feels fatigued and complains of chest pains, and perhaps most distressing of all is that his girlfriend starts to complain about his declining sexual ability!

Spurlock’s personal charm and amiability enhance the films appeal and carry us through the experiment, causing us to care for this brave, but inherently stupid yank. We feel for him as he undergoes the assault of burgers and fries, and when his girlfriend and doctors strongly advise he call off the whole thing, we yearn for him to pay heed. The one saving grace we have is the belief that his girlfriend will whip him back into shape, a feat that takes her a whole year to accomplish.

It is easy to distance ourselves from these silly Americans, after all, at times they seem as though they are another species entirely. But the resounding message that permeates this movie isn’t a rant of the evil of the golden arches, but a reminder that the choice is ours, and we should choose to exercise and try no to eat more that one fast food meal a week. It is clear that Spurlock loves his food, and even after his near death experience it is likely he munches on the occasional quarter pounder.

There is a fairly broad range of views present in this film, dieticians, nutritionists, lawyers and fast food fanatics. One overweight 14 yr old girl comments that a conference speaker at a Subway convention advised that eating two Subway meals a day instead of McDonald’s will help her to lose weight. The girl’s response is one of confusion as she can’t afford two Subways a day, so how will she ever lose weight?

On the other side of the argument there is the American that has eaten over 9, 000 Big Macs and remains very slim; though perhaps this is only an external illusion of health. However the real villains of this piece are the GIGANTIC sodas and evil fries, which should be avoided at all costs. What does all that soda do to their teeth? The acid must be having a party, no wonder the teeth whitening craze began in the USA!

What does this film leave us with? Well, for what it is worth McDonalds stopped the super size option, but of course they claim, like our Labour government, that it had nothing to do with media pressure. Other than that we have a few laughs along with Spurlock, a highlight being the self aware comedic comparison of ham with heroin. We share his shock at McDonalds aggressive child orientated marketing campaign, the contents of a chicken McNugget, and the revelation that the definition of what a calorie is eludes us.

As a gonzo documentary about fast food it is superb viewing, but like most films of this type it is only worth watching once.

Score 4/5

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