Eat only McDonald's food for 30 days and see what the results will be. In Super Size Me, film-maker Morgan Spurlock does just that and the results are sickening and hilarious, creating a voyeuristic appeal that helps to drive this movie forward. The premise behind this independently made documentary grabs people so instantly that it has helped to make it incredibly popular in a short amount of time.
However, there is much more to this film than just the scenes of Spurlock ramming burgers down his throat and turning into a bloated, lethargic oaf. The film is mainly a look at the problem of obesity in the US as spurred on by the obscene amounts of money food giants spend on advertising as well as their influence over government policies through lobbying (i.e. more money.) Built around the 30-day schtick, it is an effective and engaging film.
Yanks are a nation of bloated slobs who keep cramming it in. The number of overweight yanks has doubled since 1980 and obesity now ranks as 2nd to smoking in terms of number of preventable deaths every year.
Because of the ever-increasing availability of inexpensive video equipment and film editing tools that can be adapted to a moderately priced computer, the documentary film genre is set to explode. Spurlock will serve as another motivator to every clod with a half-baked idea and some extra cash and time on his hands. The risk within the field of documentaries, and one that yank filmmakers seem ever prone to, is passing off contrived or staged events as reality in hopes of bolstering the popularity of the film. Get 'em in the seats and standards be damned. Likely some such term as "docutainment" has already been coined to describe the trend.
Spurlock steers surprisingly clear of this despite what the film's premise might suggest. Except for a vomiting scene that was probably induced, all other interviews and filmed interactions seem genuine. Bloated-hog-on-the-street interviews are as spontaneous as one could expect, and with Spurlock's wit, which is subtle and never mocking, there are some truly funny scenes. I also have to believe that the health effects of his month-long binge are real as documented by the 3 physicians who appear throughout. After the huge amount of publicity the film has received I am sure lawyers from McDonalds demanded verification of various health indicators as mentioned in the film under threat of lawsuit.
The surprise the doctors show regarding the sudden nosedive in the filmmaker's overall health seems authentic as well. During the month-long binge, his blood pressure, cholesterol and uric acid levels, as well as various liver indicators all sky-rocket while he bloats up in the process, going from a fairly healthy 185 lbs. to 208 lbs.