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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Review: Super Size Me
By Caroline Westbrook
BBC News Online

Morgan Spurlock in Super Size Me
Director Morgan Spurlock gained 25lbs during filming
The documentary Super Size Me has been one of the surprise hits of the year in the US, and UK audiences will have a chance to find out what all the fuss is about when it opens here on 10 September.

Morgan Spurlock's documentary Super Size Me has been generating hype and headlines ever since it made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Its boldly satirical swipe at the fast food industry - one which even prompted McDonald's to take out adverts suggesting punters should consume their products as part of a balanced diet - has made it one of the most talked-about films of the year, second only to Michael Moore's similarly contentious Fahrenheit 9/11.

But has all the hype been justified? To a certain extent, yes.

Bloated

Unlike other recent documentary hits, Super Size Me doesn't really tell you anything you don't already know - namely that if you eat too much fast food it will probably ruin your health.

But it puts its point across in hugely entertaining fashion - while presenting a portrait of one man's transformation into a bloated burger addict that is both hilarious and disturbing.

The immensely likeable Spurlock, who takes centre stage as well as directing, is in the peak of fitness when the film begins.

But he's about to undertake a bold experiment, namely to see what effect eating nothing but McDonald's food for 30 days has on his health.

The rules are that everything he eats and drinks - even water - must come from their menu, and he has to upgrade to a supersize meal whenever it's offered to him.

Against the advice of a trio of doctors - and his girlfriend Alex, a vegan chef - Spurlock goes ahead with his burger binge - and the effects are alarming.

Shocking

Morgan Spurlock in Super Size Me

Within three weeks his liver is buckling under the strain, he's started to pile on the pounds and - perhaps most worryingly, he starts to get headaches whenever he's deprived of food for more than a few hours.

Although the tone of the film is light-hearted, there's a serious message here, which comes across best when Spurlock is travelling across the US to see the effect fast food has had on the country.

And there's shocking moments too - witness the in-depth look at the chip-filled canteens of the average American school, or the stomach stapling operation that's shown in graphic detail.

Ultimately, the high comedy factor and over-familiarity of the subject matter render it less powerful than other recent documentaries - but it still makes for enjoyable, thought-provoking viewing.

Whether it persuades legions of fast food fanatics to cast aside their Big Macs is another matter entirely.




SEE ALSO:
McDonald's serves up film blitz
20 Aug 04  |  Entertainment
McDonalds fights off film attack
15 Jun 04  |  Asia-Pacific
McDonald's: The journey to health
20 Apr 04  |  Business
New menu gives lift to McDonald's
22 Jul 04  |  Business
Documentaries turn up cinema heat
23 May 04  |  Entertainment


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