This documentary film by Morgan Spurlock asks the intriguing and topical question: What would happen to a normal 33-year-old man in perfect health who stands six feet two and weighs 185 pounds if he ate nothing but McDonald's fast food for thirty days?
Well, it is not recorded that he shrunk. In fact, Spurlock, forsaking his vegan girlfriend's healthy cuisine, gained about 25 pounds and saw his cholesterol level shoot up to dangerous levels as he huffed and puffed his way three times a day through myriad Big Macs and fillet o' fish sandwiches, milk shakes, sodas, fries and other not-so-delicate items from the menu of the world's largest purveyor of fast food. He had hired three doctors and a registered dietician to check his vital signs and give him a thorough physical exam prior to this experiment in not-so-fine dining. Before the gorging was done all three doctors and the dietician advised him in the most uncertain terms for the sake of his health to stop eating the sugar-laden, fat-smeared, nearly fiber-free "diet." But Spurlock, trooper that he is, amid the McTingles and the McPukes, hung in there until the very end.
I can report that he survived the experience. Whether the viewer will is another matter. If you yourself (God help you) are seriously overweight you might want to pass on this excruciatingly detailed misadventure under the Golden Arches. All that fat slapping against those waddling thighs (Spurlock mercifully fuzzed out the faces of his subjects, allowing us only body shots),all that jiggling flesh under those XXXL garments might be too uncomfortably close to home for some sensitive viewers.
But was this a fair test of the harmful consequences of eating Happy Meals and being super sized? After all, Spurlock eschewed exercise during the experiment, and of course nobody (?) actually eats every meal at McDonald's as Spurlock did. Furthermore he actually doubled his normal caloric intake from about 2500 calories a day to about 5000. Regardless I think we can say that his experience was indicative.
The real question to be asked here (and Spurlock asks it) is whether McDonald's (or as some have dubbed thee) whether McDeath's can be or should be held responsible for the epidemic of obesity that is sweeping the country. Spurlock implies that McDonald's should be held responsible at least for its advertising aimed at children. I agree with this. But I also think that adults ought to know what they are doing. If they choose to chow down at a place that loves to super size and under nourish them, perhaps they themselves should be held responsible for the consequences. However, some people feel that the advertising has been so insidious for so long and the food so addictive to susceptible individuals that McDonald's ought to be taken to court just as the tobacco companies have been.
For more information on the epidemic, its consequences, and what can be done about it, I refer the interested reader to The Hungry Gene: The Science of Fat and the Future of Thin by Ellen Ruppel Shell; Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fastest People in the World by Eric Critser; and Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser. Schlosser appears in one of the bonus features being interviewed by Spurlock. This interview is one of the highlights of the DVD. Schlosser is articulate, candid, and very well-informed.
Spurlock of course is a performer as well as a film maker. His directorial style owes something to that of Michael Moore, and his playful on-camera muggings remind me of Ian Wright of PBS's Globe Trekker series.
See this as an introduction to this most serious threat to the nation's health, especially as it affects children. Morgan Spurlock is to be commended for bringing the reality of the epidemic to the attention of the general public.
By the way, "McTingles" are those highflying, scary feelings you get after rapidly injecting massive amounts of pure sugar and caffeine into your system, usually by gulping your way through a 64-ounce McCola--and to think when I was a kid, Coca-Cola came in six-ounce bottles. How ever did we survive? "McPukes" are self-explanatory.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
Super Size Me
Super Size Me
Several legal suits have been brought against McDonald's Restaurants that they are knowingly selling food that is unhealthy. Some of the court decisions have stated that the plaintiffs would have a claim if they could prove that eating the food every day for every meal is dangerous. As such, documentarian Morgan Spurlock conducts an unscientific experiment using himself as the guinea pig: eat only McDonald's for thirty days, three meals a day. If he is asked by the clerk if he would like the meal super sized, he has to say yes. And by the end of the thirty days, he will have had to have eaten every single menu item at least once. Before starting the experiment, he is tested by three doctors - a general practitioner, a cardiologist and a gastroenterologist - who pronounce his general health to be outstanding. They will also monitor him over the thirty days to ensure that he is not placing his health into irreparable damage. He also consults with a dietitian/nutritionist and an exercise physiologist, the latter who also deems him to be above average fitness. As it mimics the lifestyle of those who eat fast food, he will also do no exercise for the thirty days, limiting himself to under 5,000 steps per day (the approximate equivalent of 2½ miles). These health and medical experts have some predictions about his general health and wellness by the end of the experiment. His vegan chef girlfriend also has some predictions about how this experiment will affect his mood and therefore their relationship. As he goes through the experiment, he speaks to a number of people - many experts in their respective fields - on the pros and cons of the fast food lifestyle. Just over halfway through the experiment, it is evident that even the experts can be wrong, and not in a good way.
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