Friday, March 18, 2011

Super Size Me (Movie Review)

     When I was a little kid, I loved McDonald’s, I mean what kid didn’t? It had a fun collection of colorful characters, cheerful advertisements, they had a cool toy that came with the meal (most of my toys came from McDonalds) and best of all was the tubing playground. Oh the joy of exploring tunnels, going down slides and jumping into a pit full of plastic toy balls is something that I can’t do justice. It was so much fun that we never even gave a second thought about how unhealthy the food was. However, when we grow up, we begin to develop an awareness of the junky foods we eat and for those of us who still don’t know how to eat healthy, we have these wonderful documentary films that dive into the dangers of the junky foods we eat. The greatest food documentary film I’ve ever seen is the 2008 doc called “Food Inc.” This was a fascinating yet terrifying film that really opens your eyes on the modern food industry and is a film that every health-conscious citizen needs to see. But I can’t go too far off on another subject because this isn’t a review of “Food Inc.”, it’s a review of another documentary film that has the same good intentions of warning people on the dangers of eating fast food but fails in comparison. This is the 2003 doc titled “Super Size Me”.
        While it wasn’t the first film to tackle the subject “Super Size Me” seemed to be the first to really grab an audience’s attention. Before I go into the negative about this film, let’s look at the fair positives. The documentary style was done very well and is even entertaining watch. It dose still get its message across and dose a good job showing all the negative effects fast food has on the general public. In one seen, a group of kids are shown pictures of famous people like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to see if they know any of these people. As you sadly would assume the kids only recognize the picture of Ronald McDonald and haven’t got a clue who anyone else is. One child even mistakes Jesus Christ for George Bush, that’s just really sad. Other things are looked at too, like how many McDonalds populate the US and how often people eat there. We see the foods that get served at public schools, we see the tallies of fat people that live in areas where there are lots of fast food restaurants and there’s this really nasty scene with this fat guy who’s going through a surgery to get rid of all his fat, I hope you have a strong stomach if you’re going to watch this scene.
    So that’s all good stuff and the message still holds up well, so what’s my problem with this film? Well, first off all, this doc only focuses on fast food, McDonalds in particular, while “Food Inc.” looked at the dangers of all kinds of foods, even the stuff we get from the commissary and grocery stories. But that’s just me nit picking, my real problem with “Super Size Me”, is that it’s wrote, directed, produced and stars a man named Morgan Spurlock, who’s on a wager, for one full month he will eat nothing but McDonald’s meals to see what the end results would be. He’s really doing this by the way, this isn’t him playing a fictional character, there’s no make-up, fake foods or even fake vomit, he really is eating nothing but McDonalds for a full month, these are real effects that are happening to him and while this documentary will occasionally look at the stuff mentioned before, the bulk of this film is spent just observing this guy as his health slowly gets worse with each passing day as he continues to eat McDonalds, and there’s the big problem with this film in a nut shell. What is he hopping to accomplish by doing this, he is slowly killing himself, making his life miserable, diminishing the ability to have sex with his wife and vomiting every other second just to show that it isn’t healthy to eat a lot of fast food. Good intentions but guise what, there’s an easier way to get this message across to people, without slowly ruining your life in the process.
      This takes me back to what I loved in “Food Inc.”, it was a very rich warning film that gets so much across, with so many different topics and food based subjects, even pulling up the real life stories of tragic events that happened to other people who ate food that wasn’t properly taken care of. It didn’t need some moron on a wager to slowly kill himself, it stuck to the right materials it needs to properly convey this serious message. It’s just so hard to take “Super Size Me” seriously when we spend the whole film observing someone doing something as stupid as this. Even the poster makes this film look like a comedy that’s not meant to be taken seriously, and yet it has very serious issues to think about and discuss.   
      I know this wasn’t as much a film review as it was comparing two films, but it’s the only proper way to discuss the problems I had with “Super Size Me”. To be fair, it’s a little better than other films like “Food Matters” and “Fast Food Nation”, and like I said earlier, this documentary film does have very good intentions, but it just doesn’t convey its message in a proper or mature manner. Personally, I say, it’s a great topic that needs to be looked at more often but skip “Super Size Me” and just stick with “Food Inc.” because it dose a far more effective job of conveying this subject in a freighting yet very interesting and thought provoking way. I give “Super Size Me” 2 ½ stars.

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