Super Size Me

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the latest trend in filmmaking: The High Concept Documentary.

Much has already been written about Super Size Me, but if you've been hiding under the sink for the first half of 2004, the pitch is this: Director Morgan Spurlock decided to eat a McDonald's-only diet for 30 days in 2003 - just to see if all the brouhaha over fast food being bad for you is true - and filmed himself throughout the duration. (Spurlock was allegedly inspired by the since-dismissed lawsuit that two obese teenage girls filed against McDonald's; they claimed it was corporate mind-control, not personal gluttony, that made them fat.)

Documenting every agonizing day of his "McDiet", and periodically checking in on his weight and health, Spurlock finds plenty of time in-between doctor's exams to squeeze in dozens of talking heads spouting opinions about the fast food industry, with some fun animations to add zing. The end result: well, I won't give it away, but let's just say that Spurlock's disturbing biological reaction to all those burgers and Cokes surprised even his doctors.

Is Super Size Me an important movie? Surprisingly, not really. Eric Schlosser's bestseller Fast Food Nation already covered the same ground, and did so much more thoroughly. Perhaps Super Size Me is aimed at those too fat and lazy to pick up Schlosser's book. Spurlock's Everydude persona - both morally and intellectually, he positions himself somewhere between Michael Moore and jackass star Johnny Knoxville - may help his movie appeal to teenagers, who I believe are the people who really should be seeing it. (The one true urgent point in the film, in fact, is that schools need to stop making deals with the junk food industry and start providing their students with healthy meals.)

Super Size Me is not particularly insightful, and Spurlock misses a lot of opportunities, but it's a lively, entertaining film, worth seeing if only to make McDonald's and its ilk nervous about the public being educated about the crap they've been eating.