Over a decade after his legendary McDonald's diet, Morgan Spurlock takes another shot at exposing the fast-food industry by turning his attention to the most popular item on the menu: chicken. This time around, Spurlock goes for a different approach to prove that contrary to popular belief, fast food hasn't gotten healthier despite claims from the big chains: he opens his own fast-food restaurant!
Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! follows the making of the titular eatery as Spurlock consults with marketing and health experts on how many fast-food restaurants manipulate their customers into thinking that the food they're eating is healthy, raises poultry himself with the help of a third-generation chicken farmer, crafts a chicken sandwich that's supposedly grilled and fried (grilled chicken is much healthier than fried chicken but not as popular), and reveals dark secrets surrounding the major chicken manufacturers, all leading up to a fast-food experience that is not really healthy but transparent and honest as hell.
And despite not being the central focus, Mickey D's is not off the hook as they are as guilty of deceiving customers as the other chains.
The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to mixed-to-positive reviews but its release was derailed that December when Spurlock opened up to his history of sexual misconduct on Twitter. Despite these setbacks, the film was eventually released on September 6, 2019 for a limited theatrical run and it hit VOD a week later.
Tropes applying to this documentary are:
- Artifact Title: The premise has nothing to do with Morgan's diet from the first film. One could consider the chickens that have been engineered to grow abnormally fast as being "super sized", but that's really stretching it.
- Big Bad: This time it's the National Chicken Council. Not only do they dictate the politics of the major chicken brands (collectively titled "Big Chicken"), but they also lock chicken farmers into a competitive system that only benefits the ones performing well. It's not even truly a meritocratic system since the farmer's success is subject to various random factors (right feed, faster-growing chickens, arbitrary regulations, etc.) that Big Chicken can manipulate for any or no reason. Spurlock is able to work around them so he can attain his own chicken farm but that comes at a price.
- Blatant Lies: In an addition to all the restaurants' marketing tactics and interior designs to creating the illusion of eating healthy, Spurlock watches an ad for Tyson where the chairman makes broad claims that the company treats their farmers with the uttermost care and respect. Cut to an ex-employee and a few chicken farmers claiming quite the opposite.
- Call-Back: Spurlock returns to McDonald's to check out how they've supposedly changed. Not only does the McChicken tastes the same, but he has "McPTSD" from his infamous McDonald's diet.
- The Cameo: Marion Nestle, an NYU professor and nutritionist who appeared in the original Super Size Me, makes another uncredited appearance here when Spurlock pitches his idea to open a "100% honest" fast food restaurant.
- Fast-Food Nation: Americans are still obsessed with fast-food and they've been successfully duped into thinking that it's now healthier than it was in 2004. It's not.
- Food Porn: We get to see Spurlock's signature chicken sandwich being perfectly crafted for promotional shots, again revealing another dirty restaurant trick.
- I Ate WHAT?!: At Holy Chicken, a few patrons have this response when Spurlock shows a picture of the actual chicken he raised as opposed to the stock image that chicken manufacturers usually use.
- Just for Pun: Potential names for the restaurant include Dumb Cluck and Mother Cluckers. Neither of them flies.
- Let's Meet the Meat: All the chickens at Spurlock's farm qualifies, given that they'll all be on the menu once they're big enough to get chopped off.
- Very False Advertising: The point of the Holy Chicken restaurant is to show just how empty the fast-food industry's health claims really are.