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DVD Review: Super Size Me

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What a great documentary this was. I first heard about it earlier this year and initially I thought it was a joke. After discovering that it wasn’t, I figured that there was no way it would get a distribution deal. After I found it did get a deal, I didn’t think there was any chance that it would play anywhere near me. As it turned out, all of this turned out to be true, so off I went one fine night nearly five months ago and watched what turned out to be an entertaining and eye opening film which found it’s way to my Top Ten list for the year, and is currently sitting at number seven. Now along comes the DVD, does it live up to the theatrical experience? The answer is yes. But before I get into the good stuff on the disk, maybe I should give a rundown of what the film, and the hype, is all about.

This documentary is the brain child of Morgan Spurlock. He wondered what would happen if he went on a month long McDonald’s binge. So, for 30 days he ate nothing but McDonald’s food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you couldn’t buy it over the counter, he didn’t eat it. After consulting with a few doctors, he started on his quest. This film documents his eating, as well as explores the effects of fast food and marketing on our youth.

The vast majority of what is revealed in this movie is stuff that most of us already know. I found the difference to be that what we know isn’t always driven home until we see it, at least for me. I have been a fast food junkie for years, I know that it is bad for me, I know my health is suffering because of it, but I just kept going back for more. I identified with a lot of what he experienced, the mood swings, the hunger, the sick feeling. You see how ubiquitous the fast food companies are, everywhere you turn there’s another commercial, or ad, or restaurant. Also, watching Morgan get heavier and see how his body was reacting to the food, kind of frightening. Ever since I saw this film I have been cutting back on my intake of this processed junk.

Super Size Me takes a look at a lot of the contributing factors to the world, in particular the US’s, obesity issue. Besides the obvious with his month long binge, he takes a look at the school system and how school meal systems aren’t doing much to help with the spread of necessary nutritional information, not to mention the lack of emphasis on physical activity. Also looked at is the need for corporate responsibility, or lack thereof. An entertaining well rounded work.

Back to the release of the film. I was very happy to discover that it was going to get a good sized release, that is rare for a documentary. Hopefully the better releases for documentaries will continue in this post Michael Moore era of documentary filmmaking. Besides that, this film will hopefully serve as an eye opener for people in a situation like me, where it may not necessarily be a health risk yet, but if I continue on this path it definitely will. With this DVD now out, I urge everyone to at least give it a rental, it really is a good piece of work.

Video. The video is presented in it’s OAR of 1.85:1. The problem is that it is presented in letterbox format and is not 16:9 enhanced. Meaning that there is a loss of overall resolution on widescreen TV’s, in addition there will be black bars on all four sides, unless the image is zoomed. This doesn’t affect me right now, as I don’t yet have a widescreen set, but this is unfortunate in a time where anamorphic enhancement is pretty much the norm. Outside of that, the image is sharp and clear. I did not notice any edge enhancement or any other image issue. Overall it is a good transfer.

Audio. Presented in Dolby Digital stereo, audio is good. Always clear, there aren’t any special effects or need for 5.1 mix. Nothing to really comment on here.

Extras. Here we get a nice selection of extras.
-Interviews. There are extra interviews not used in the film, including segments with the Big Mac guy Don Gorske, Phil Lempert a supermarket expert, and an extended interview with Eric Schlosser tha author of Fast Food Nation. All of them were interesting and worthy of viewing.
-Deleted scenes. There are a few deleted scenes including showing how much garbage he generated and an older couple who collect McDonald’s memorabilia.
-Commentary with director Morgan Spurlock and his girlfriend, Alex. I have sampled a bit of this and it is very entertaining and informative about the scenes onscreen and the filming background.
-Inserts. There is a chapter listing insert with the movie poster on the flip side. Also there is a sheet with the recipes for the last supper before he started.

Bottomline. Excellent documentary, excellent package. Eye opening, funny, and horrifying all at the same time. One of the things that helps this film out a lot is Morgan Spurlock himself, he is a very engaging personality and a good speaker. I can’t recommend this enough.
Warning: This a film that everyone should see, kids included. But, there is some language and sexual discussion, plus an operation shown. Rest easy, there is a family friendly version coming which will make it suitable for the entire family.

Highly Recommended.

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