Fifteen years ago, documentarian Morgan Spurlock briefly became a household name thanks to Super Size Me, his hit film about the unethical farming practices and craven profiteering lurking beneath American fast food companies. By subjecting himself to a 30-day diet of nothing but the largest portions available at McDonald’s, Spurlock ate his way to a career in film and television through his points about consumers’ supposed lack of awareness about what they eat on a daily basis.
Now, because nothing is safe from the era of sequels, remakes, and “re-imaginings” in Hollywood, there will even be a Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!. (Yes, that is the full title.) Spurlock returns as both director and star, this time taking on the myth that fast food is getting healthier in the modern age. To do this, he’ll build a fast food chicken restaurant from scratch, aiming to argue that some chains continue to dupe their customers while sidestepping the law:
From its director’s dollar store Michael Moore proselytizing to its chicken-in-a-barrel targets, the doc appears to be cut from the same didactic cloth as Spurlock’s previous hit. Super Size Me might have been fairly popular, and it certainly led to its share of equally gimmicky imitators, but a return to that 2004 feature will quickly avail audiences of just how shallow much of it was. While it draws attention to several key industry issues of the time, it also ultimately operates on the flawed assumption that fast food is inherently bad. That’s to say nothing of the leering, condescending way in which Spurlock and the film treat his weight gain throughout, as though no worse fate could befall a human being.
Pointing out that industrial agriculture can be hazardous if conducted improperly, or that some restaurants will cut corners from time to time, is hardly the stuff of revelatory documentary cinema. Yet Super Size Me 2 will look to carry on an argument that fewer and fewer people seem to be having these days, as part of Spurlock’s attempted comeback after admitting to sexual misconduct in late 2017. The film will be released September 19.