Morgan Spurlock's slickly entertaining documentary delivers the ultimate blinding glimpse of the obvious: Fast food is bad for you and fast-food companies spend millions so you'll eat it anyway. His stroke of genius was to build it around a stunt with road-accident appeal, personally undertaking a 30-day, all-McDonald's diet and recording the results. A genial New Yorker from West Virginia, the third-fattest state in the union, the 6-foot 2-inch Spurlock started out weighing a healthy 185 pounds, with 11 percent body fat and exemplary blood pressure, cholesterol levels and liver function. Three doctors and a nutritionist monitored his progress as he replaced a vegetable and whole-grain-heavy diet — Spurlock's girlfriend, in a too-perfect-for-fiction twist, is a vegan chef — with three squares a day worth of McNuggets, McGriddles, Big Macs, French fries, Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and bottomless cups of soda. Spurlock sampled every item on the McDonald's menu at least once and supersized his order when asked; he also curtailed his physical activity to a level commensurate with that of an office worker who drives everywhere. By the third week of the regimen, Spurlock was nearly 25 pounds heavier, plagued by headaches and mood swings, lethargic and looking at elevated cholesterol levels and a liver which one doctor vividly compared to foie gras. The blobby spectacle of his fast food-fueled decline is interspersed with segments examining school-lunch programs, issues of corporate and personal responsibility, food-industry lobbying tactics and sky-rocketing American obesity rates, illustrated by a candid-camera parade of supersized behinds and bellies. Though gussied-up with eye-catching charts, goofy graphics and animated illustrations, the film is held together by Spurlock's good-natured sense of humor — he's like a less belligerent and better-groomed Michael Moore. Spurlock lacks the killer instinct that would have led Moore to storm McDonald's corporate headquarters after his polite interview requests were blown off over the phone. But he's got enough gumption to cut short his girlfriend's strident rant about the evils of meat-eating with the pointed observation that ham and heroin just don't occupy the same niche on the personal-vices scale. Spurlock's feature-length call to arms is as compulsively watchable as one of the old classroom-scare pictures it often resembles, and perhaps as useless. But by co-opting the same visual language of commercial advertising's seductive come-ons, Spurlock gives his message a fighting chance.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: PG
- Review: Morgan Spurlock's slickly entertaining documentary delivers the ultimate blinding glimpse of the obvious: Fast food is bad for you and fast-food companies spend millions so you'll eat it anyway. His stroke of genius was to build it around a stunt with road… (more)