Right on McTarget

"Super Size Me" is better than any Micheal Moore film, for the simple reason that it was made by a better human being. Morgan Spurlock, a thirty-something filmmaker with one previous production credit, attacks McDonald's with the same aggressive glee that Moore showed when going after General Motors ("Roger and Me"). the gun lobby ("Bowling for Columbine"), and President Bush ("Fahrenheit 9/11"). But while Moore is a carpet bomb blasting everyone who wanders into his viewfinder, Spurlock is a smart bomb hitting only his chosen target.

It's no fun deliberately ruining your health by adopting the sedentary lifestyle and fast food diet that are turning so many Americans into human Humvees, but that is what Spurlock does. Cheerfully making himself the guinea pig, he starts his experiment with a complete medical exam, in which three different doctors declare him to be in "perfect" shape.

Then, after enjoying a healthy "last supper" cooked by his vegan girlfriend, he spends a painful and hilarious 30 days sitting on his behind and scarfing down everything on the McDonald's menu, from Sausage McGriddles to Chicken McNuggets to Double Quarter Pounders with Cheese, accompanied by Super Size French Fries and gallons of Coke, and finished off with horrors like Baked Apple Pie Triple Thick Shakes.

After three weeks the doctors are advising him to stop, and at the end of the month, he has gained 40 pounds and developed something like an addiction to the rush caused by massive amounts of fat, sugar, starch, and sodium. After four weeks the doctors are telling him to quit or suffer alcoholic-like cirrhosis of the liver.

Spurlock uses some Moore tricks: the sarcastic voice-over that doesn't even pretend to be objective; the ironic editing that makes you laugh out loud; the campy use of old ads and TV; and the interview-ambush. The object of the latter is a General Foods spokesman who, in the middle of expressing corporate concern about the obesity epidemic, blurts out, "We're part of the problem." The poor guy is instantly freeze-framed and plastered with the logos of General Foods subsidiaries, while his words are re-played for the movie-going millions. At the end we learn that he no longer works for the company.

But this is Spurlock's sole victim. To everyone else, from McDonald's employees to pudgy consumers who admit to gobbling fast food several times a week, Spurlock is unfailingly sympathetic and polite. One way of measuring the difference between him and Moore is to ask yourself: Who would you rather be attacked by, an unpleasant egomaniac who enjoys making other people look foolish, or a sweet-faced fellow who just grins, rubs his belly, and delivers a knockout punch?

July 27, 2004 1:40 AM |

Categories:

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This page contains a single entry by published on July 27, 2004 1:40 AM.

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