17 March 2020 | davideo-2
Surprising, little publicised documentary sequel
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Over ten years after his ground-breaking documentary Super Size Me had a dramatic impact on the fast food industry, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock returns to the film that made his name, with the sad realisation that nothing much fundamentally has changed. However, the most popular 'junk food' now has become chicken, which calorifically is the best of a bad lot. But all is not as it seems, as Spurlock delves into the inner machinations of the American chicken industry, and how they twist things to make them not as they seem, whilst endeavouring to set up his own chicken store, where everything is as natural as it claims.
Super Size Me was a small, independent film, with a high concept regarding one guy's determination to eat nothing but fast food for a month, that went on to have quite a cultural impact, resulting in various big name franchises (chiefly McDonalds) adopting a more balanced, healthier menu. This (typically belated nowadays) follow up film (which I only learned about when I saw it featured on Amazon Prime) has received even less publicity (premiering on these shores in January of this year despite being released in 2017!) and won't have anywhere near the same outcome (marred even more by Spurlock's alleged #MeToo indiscretions.)
Despite being on far less of a pedestal, Spurlock approaches his new project with the same passion he spearheaded his original 2004 film with, whilst not forgetting to inject it with plenty of light relief, which his naturally affable personality allows with no problems. Whilst he seemed to be highlighting general ignorance with regards to healthy eating practises last time, here he seems to be honing in on outright corruption, highlighting the chicken industry's exploitation of the poor, oppressed farmers forced to go along with their plans, and the corporate duplicity with regards what the public are told is really (for instance) 'free range' and not 'hormone injected.'
The 'eat nothing but junk' gimmick was what drove much of the first film, and with the novelty not as strong here, it doesn't have quite the same kick. But aesthetically, there's nothing wrong with it, Spurlock guiding it all along with the same gusto that made the last film work so well, and only marginally less so here. ***