Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2004. The Con, Kathbur Pictures, Studio On Hudson. Screenplay by Morgan Spurlock. Cinematography by Scott Ambrozy. Produced by Morgan Spurlock. Music by Steve Horowitz. Production Design by Joe the Artist. Film Editing by Stela Georgieva, Julie Bob Lombardi. Academy Awards 2004.
In response to a lawsuit in which two young women sued McDonald’s for making them obese, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock made this documentary examining America’s obsession with fast food. Interviewing corporate members of McDonald’s as well as nutritionists and restaurant customers, he unveils an alarming amount of statistical information regarding the country’s recent epidemic of obesity and its connection to the high rate of fast food consumption. Not one to simply make judgments, however, Spurlock also puts his money where his mouth is and conducts an experiment on himself: he allows the camera to watch him as he spends thirty days eating nothing but McDonald’s meals three times a day, observing what it does to his body and whether or not the mega-chain restaurant is to be implicated in the issue of America’s poor eating habits. To keep the experiment official, Spurlock makes sure to constantly refer to various medical doctors who monitor the experiment week by week and let him know how his health is developing…well, actually declining. After thirty days, Spurlock’s liver has turned to fat, his cholesterol has tripled and he has gained 25 pounds. The food has also affected him emotionally, with constant depression and mood swings and a very low sex drive that affects his relationship with his vegan chef girlfriend, who becomes less and less supportive of this dangerous experiment as it progresses. This film is a frightening wakeup call, required viewing for anyone who has ever eaten any kind of fast food: it will shock you, repel you, depress you, and, well I’d hate to admit it, but it will also make you a little hungry from time to time. Best of all, it will always entertain you and make you realize where reality TV should be going. The film has had its positive effects so far: one month after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Director’s Prize for Documentary, McDonald’s announced it would no longer be offering the Super Size option for its fries and drinks (a Super Size in the States is half a pound of fries, while its pop counterpart contains 48 teaspoons of sugar!) and would introduce a line of healthier items on its menu; of course, in the film it is pointed out that the restaurant’s supposedly healthy salads contain more calories than a Big Mac, so let’s not all get too excited about that.