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Over the top documentary delivers the goods

Ryan Rogers | Monday, September 13, 2004

Morgan Spurlock, director, producer and masochist of the film “Super Size Me,” points at America’s fat gut with blatant disregard for its feelings.The documentary features Spurlock, an award-winning graduate of New York University, binging on McDonald’s food for an entire month, three meals a day. During Spurlock’s eating adventures he must adhere to three rules. He can only eat things available over the counter at McDonald’s (water and vitamins included), he can only super size when it is offered and he must eat everything on the menu at least once. Spurlock also calculates the average amount of exercise the average American gets daily (which happens to be as insignificant as walking to and from a car) and practiced this same workout routine. In addition to his personal McDonald’s binge, Spurlock also travels around the United States in an attempt to unlock the answer to the question “why is America so fat?” In his pilgrimage, he interviews various doctors, nutritionists and teachers to highlight different points of view and different areas of concern for the health of America.This film is very funny, and Spurlock is witty and thoroughly entertaining. It also offers a wealth of information for those unaware of the extent of damage that fast food can do to one’s body, focusing heavily on facts. Spurlock is armed to the teeth with stats, numbers and professional opinions about the nutritional value of an average visit to McDonald’s.The best part of this film is the fact that, while it clearly defames fast food chains, it does not look to them for answers. As the film states, fast food is a business and as long as there are customers there will be no change in practice. Ultimately, the customer has to make the change. This ending does seem pretty abrupt and forced but regardless “Super Size Me” delivers all it promises.While most people understand that fast food is not healthy, the film exposes some rather alarming facts. Doctors tell Spurlock that he will die as a result of this diet. They beg him to stop the experiment. Spurlock falls into depression. He develops cirrhosis of the liver as a result of his diet. Children are offered few healthy alternatives to french fries in school lunches all across the country. Interviews reveal ridiculous popular opinions, thoughts (or lack thereof) and myths about nutrition. Random people interviewed on the street can more easily sing the Big Mac song than the National Anthem.As any film about the weaknesses of the human body, “Super Size Me” presents some graphic images. Spurlock burps and vomits while consuming his meals. A medical procedure is performed on screen. Very personal things are revealed about Spurlock’s body in his many visits to the doctor. Although this may be difficult for those with weak stomachs, it is very honest filmmaking. Spurlock not only puts his body on the line but also his pride.Spurlock knows his film’s limits. The film runs just over an hour and a half and that is plenty. The film ends before beating its points into the ground, which is a difficult line to walk. Those seeking a tremendously groundbreaking documentary should look elsewhere, but ultimately “Super Size Me” proves itself to be funny, intelligent, and refreshing.