Super Size Me
is a 2004 documentary made by Morgan Spurlock, which follows him as he attempts an experiment to only eat McDonald's
food for 30 straight days.
This experiment is used as a framing sequence as Morgan takes a cross-country look at the various facets of fast-food culture in the United States, including its effects on the human body over a sustained period of time, diehard fast-food fans, the use of processed food in the American public school system, and the impact of fast-food on American society and business.The rules of Morgan's experiment are:
- For 30 days, he can't eat or drink anything that isn't on a McDonald's menu.
- He must eat three meals a day — breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- He must consume everything on the menu at least once.
- If a cashier asks Morgan if he wants to "super size" his meal, he must agree.
- He will attempt to walk about as much as (or rather, not substantially more than) a typical U.S citizen, based on a suggested figure of 5,000 steps per day.
- He must consume everything on his plate.
As a result, Spurlock ends up suffering from various health problems, such as lethargy, depression, headaches, a reduced sex drive, heart palpitations and weight gain. However, Spurlock completes the experiment, and concludes that fast-food can have incredibly damaging effects on the human body if eaten consistently and constantly, as well as stating that the experiment was an extreme case.
The film was generally well-received, and earned over $11 million dollars (against a $65,000 budget) at the box office. Soon after this documentary was released, McDonald's stopped offering the super-size option for their meals and introduced a 'Go Fit!' meal. They claim that these changes were unrelated to the documentary's popularization
Tropes applying to this documentary are:
- Artistic License - Biology: Morgan admits that he practically never ate out before making the documentary, and that he normally barely even eats meat in his evening meals because his girlfriend is a vegan chef. It's inevitable that somebody who goes from this kind of diet to eating nothing but McDonalds will have a much more extreme reaction than an average person who eats fast food in moderation. If eating a Super Size Combo made everyone vomit, do you really think they would keep offering it?
- Another documentary film maker has accused him of taking artistic license with a lot more than just that. More scientific and less informal studies have found it impossible to replicate his results as well.
- A Weighty Aesop: This is basically the point of the film, where Morgan Sperlock goes on a McDonald's diet for a month. Needless to say, it doesn't turn out well for him.
- Big Eater: Shows the consequences of such.
- Although they also show Don Gorske, who eats one (or more) Big Macs daily, and is rail-thin. He doens't touch the french fries or soda though, so he's still way behind Morgan's intake levels.
- Captain Obvious Aesop: Fast food is bad for your health. The film admits that everyone already knows that, but attempts to show that it's worse than you might think. The doctor at the beginning says that he expects Spurlock to gain some weight, but after a few weeks is begging him to stop the experiment for his own safety. The experiment as a whole just glues together a larger message about making smart food choices.
- Deep-Fried Whatever: In an extra feature on the DVD release, Spurlock visits a fish and chip shop that also experiments with deep-frying candy bars. Since Morgan is still on his McDonald's-only diet while they visit, he defers to his cameraman.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Watching this film can give you a serious craving for your favorite McDonald's menu item, though other parts of the film, such as Spurlock vomiting a Super-Sized meal out of his car door, might spoil your appetite.
- Fan Boy: Spurlock visits renowned Big Mac fanboy Don Gorske, who achieved notoriety for eating at least one Big Mac a day for well over a decade. In contrast to the film's message, it shows that the Gorske is actually in perfect health because he only eats the Big Macs; he doesn't eat the french fries or drink the soda.
- Granola Girl: Spurlock's girlfriend.
- "Last Supper" Steal: One segment is a painting that shows grotesque caricatures of various fast food mascots set up like "The Last Supper".
- Nonmammal Mammaries: One of segments explained that McNuggets were originally made from chickens with larger-than-normal-breasts. This was demonstrated with an animated chicken with pendulous breasts so big that it had to walk with a cane.
- Scenery Censor: At one point, Morgan is interviewing someone while they have lunch at McDonald's. A McDonald's bag is placed to conceal what the interviewee was eating: A McDonald's salad.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Meta-Example. sometime after the movie debuted nation wide, Mcdonalds got rid of their Super size option on the menu, stating that it was not this movie that influenced the decision......
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The "Blue Danube Waltz". During scenes of gastric bypass surgery.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Spurlock force-feeds himself a Super-Sized meal and almost immediately pukes it back up again.