Super Size Me was a terrific cheeky stunt – small wonder Morgan Spurlock never matched it | Movies

Twenty years ago, no one was a bigger beneficiary of the Michael Moore documentary boom than gonzo doc comic Morgan Spurlock who royally punk’d the McDonald’s corporate giant with his uproarious 2004 film Super Size Me. It was a piece of cheek that took advantage of the anti-corporate, anti-fast-food feeling that had been growing, especially in this country since the McLibel trial.

He embarrassed the McDonald’s organisation and single-handedly pressured them into withdrawing their mega-portion policies and even into offering unconvincing “healthy” options. He forced it to eat a triple Mac of shame with a side order of contrition. And it was happening in a pre-social-media age when this kind of proto-viral populist uprising was very difficult to create.

Spurlock had come to film-making from his earlier careers as dramatist and MTV prank comic (with his show I Bet You Will, daring members of the public to do wacky stunts).

‘Gross-out mission’: Morgan Spurlock with a poster of Super Size Me at the 2004 Sundance film festival. Photograph: Randall Michelson Archive/WireImage

He tuned in brilliantly to the new wackily confrontational, approachable and broadly issue-led mood in documentary that Moore made fashionable. Spurlock was also the ancestor of Sacha Baron Cohen’s legendary stunt-com masterpiece Borat.

His gross-out mission was to eat nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 days, taking advantage wherever possible of the irresponsibly offered “super size” option.

It was a very entertaining movie and it proved … well … what exactly? It proved, or at any rate enjoyably argued, that McDonald’s was encouraging obesity and addiction. Through his binge, Spurlock was indeed (guess what) getting fat, unhealthy and, more importantly, depressed.

Of course, no one seriously believed anything else could happen. Eating nothing but super-healthy apples would be bad for you too. And since then, it has been revealed that Spurlock’s persistent heavy drinking during that legendary 30 days makes the film even less valuable as a scientific experiment – and his actual detailed food intake was moreover never clearly revealed.

Morgan Spurlock in Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? Photograph: AP

But Spurlock’s genius in the film was that he wasn’t being too finger-waggingly serious about it. His junk-food ordeal was the comic and spectacular point. Maybe McDonald’s doesn’t look all that different nowadays than how it looked when Spurlock was tweaking its corporate nose, but he helped shift the conversation around healthy eating. One year later, our own Jamie Oliver began his campaign against turkey twizzlers in state school meals – a campaign effectively inspired by Spurlock.

He never really enjoyed the same success again. His The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011) was a moderately amusing attempt to see if you can fund an entire film though product placement. But his Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden? (2008) took a valid question – this was, of course, before Bin Laden was discovered and killed in 2011 – and supplied an unfunny, silly non-answer. His fly-on-the-wall movie about One Direction, This Is Us (2013) was an efficient but uninspired piece of work that anyone could have made.

At all events, Super Size Me was his masterpiece – a documentary which really did have an effect and challenged the way we think about food.

#Super #Size #terrific #cheeky #stunt #small #Morgan #Spurlock #matched #Movies

Leave a Comment