(NR) 3 1/2 starsEd Johnson-Ott
A funny thing happened on the way to this review. I checked my e-mail and found a message from Marcie Couet of Executive Media Communications Consultants. Marcie noted that Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock's documentary/personal journal about spending a month eating only food from McDonald's, is opening Friday and she wanted to drop me a line. Seems Marcie is "working with a group of nutritionists from the American College of Science and Health who want to share insights on the movie, which they think is more personal publicity stunt than movie." She provided a list of insights, none of which I will reprint here, and then said, "I've attached some funny articles and facts about this movie for your consideration. This is 'fun' controversy for a change. Let me know if you want or need more info."
How thoughtful of Marcie to have written. So thoughtful that I decided to call her at her downtown Indianapolis number. I asked who was funding her efforts in this "fun" controversy and she referenced some organization in Washington. Then I asked how far we would have to follow the money before reaching McDonald's. "Oh, a few more steps," she said pleasantly.
Had McDonald's simply sent the note identifying themselves and asking reviewers to consider their side of the story, I might have used some of their material. But not this way. And guess what? When I said that to Marcie, she agreed with me.
Clearly influenced by Michael Moore's undisciplined, but powerful films like Roger and Me and Bowling for Columbine, Super Size Me is a colorful, engaging, very entertaining documentary/personal journal by young filmmaker Spurlock.
After reading about two girls that sued McDonald's for making them fat (they lost the case because they could not absolutely establish the connection), he decides to eat only McDonald's for 30 days and to film what happens. Spurlock, healthy and trim at the start of the experience, over the course of a month gains 25-plus pounds; experiences a marked increase in cholesterol; suffers sexual dysfunction, headaches and nausea; and shows signs of addiction. The results are no big surprise, but actually watching a person get fat and sick and seeing the food that does it is sobering.
Morgan Spurlock is a likable, self-deprecating guy and his charisma carries the film over its rougher sections. Super Size Me is probably better viewed as a personal journal than a documentary, but either way, it may spur some of us to change the way we eat.
Anybody up for a trip to McDonald's? Me neither! Hey, Marcie, you were right - this IS a fun controversy!