Several years ago I read the book Fast Food Nation and basically that ended my interest in the main fast food outlets and saw my consumption of processed foods drop quite a bit. I did not become a born again Christian and still eat rubbish food and am no role model for healthy living! However, what I have notice in the press and in the audiences for this film is a rather smug 'look at them' attitude as if this has no impact in Europe and Americans are some sort of freak show and nothing to do with us. This film may focus on McDonalds because it is the world leader in fast food which is high in saturated fats but if all you take from this film is pleasure at seeing McDonalds taking a kicking then you are missing the point. The film was challenging to me and I hope it was to many viewers but I have not eaten in McDonalds or Burger King since 2001 and a bad bout of food poisoning in early 2003 ended my ability to enjoy KFC. So why did I find it challenging? Well, because like many others, I eat too many saturated fats and, regardless of where they come from (oven foods, ready meals or fast food) I need to cut them down. Spurlock sends this message in a really entertaining way while also having good digs at McDonalds.
His relaxed style is refreshing and allows the facts to speak for themselves. He clearly doesn't like fast food as a concept but he is no Michael Moore and is only slightly biased. He is certainly a lot more interesting than his vegan girlfriend who is one of those overbearing self-righteous types who look down their nose at anything. His good humour makes the film but it is the documentary rather than the gimmick that kept me watching. The facts on obesity do speak for themselves and they are frightening and all the more so when you actually sit and think about what you eat sweets, colas, ready meals, crisps, processed foods; whether it is salt, saturated fats or sugar, any of these foods spells trouble if they are not part of a balanced diet. My only fear of this film is that many viewers will look at McDonalds and say 'they are to blame, lets get them' and simply ignore that it is very easy to eat an unhealthy diet go to any supermarket and you'll find 'easy' food served up quickly but without the things your body needs. I was challenged because I can easily veg out for several days and be too tired to cook decent food and this reminded me why I need to hopefully many viewers will take that challenge and not just turn from one fatty diet (McDonalds) to another (ready meals).
I personally didn't find the film as funny nor as shocking as many commentators have said it was but it was still consistently entertaining and interesting, true not the most scientific of experiments but that is not the point. True, very few people eat McDonalds every day but many, many people do eat foods high in saturated fats everyday even if they are not all happy meals and, in this way, maybe Spurlock's experiment wasn't so far-fetched and, lets be honest, like their own lobbyist said McDonalds are part of the problem. That the film has had an impact is undeniable the super size option has been removed and how many salads did you see in McDonalds this time last year? It may seem unfair and I can understand why McDonalds has been quick to counter it and call it unfair and, in a way it is unfair why should they carry the whole blame for an overwhelming surge in unhealthy eating, but I suppose that's what you get for being the market leaders!
Overall this was a very entertaining film that mixes its gimmick well with humour but also a good core of a documentary with interesting talking heads who don't rant or rave but simply look to the figures in most cases. However, I would say this; if you only see this film to sneer at those visibly unhealthy or to tear a strip off McDonalds then you are missing the bigger point it is easy to eat unhealthy, cheap food no matter what brand it is eating it every day and having a poor diet is a major problem and, if nothing else this should challenge all of us to look at our own habits and not just point and laugh at others.