Sounds like a schoolboy stunt, doesn't it? My Big Fat American Belly, if you like. Well, that's exactly what it is: a fantastic, stomach-churning, artery-choking stunt. But Morgan Spurlock's Mac-attack is also a damning gut-punch that shows the fast-food industry in its true colours. And they're not pretty.
We're talking about big-business bloat-merchants who specialise in cluster-bombing children with advertising to sign them up for lifelong addiction. Did you know, for example, that McDonald's refers to its customers as "Heavy Users" and "Super-Heavy Users"? Spurlock does, and he delights in rolling off America's shocking fat-stats while showing Ronald McDonald leering to Curtis Mayfield's `Pusher Man'.
What we have here is the bastard love-child of Michael Moore and Johnny Knoxville - - with extra relish. But the laughs soon turn to grimaces when our test subject is offered his first super-sized meal. After struggling for more than 20 minutes to force down the whopping burger combo, an ashen-faced Spurlock promptly retches it back on to the pavement. It's Day Two.
As the weeks of McMeals pass, we watch the once-healthy 33 year old rapidly slouch into a panting, doughy wreck - - depressed, exhausted and, according to his vegan girlfriend, semi-impotent. Then things get scary: Spurlock starts waking in the night with heart palpitations. Likening him to Nicolas Cage's pickled booze-hound in Leaving Las Vegas, Spurlock's frazzled doctor urges that he and his pâtéd liver head straight for the nearest hospital. Which isn't a problem, because many US hospitals come with built-in McDonald's restaurants...
In between the gags and the gagging, Spurlock visits public schools and interviews doctors, lawyers and food-industry honchos. (McDonald's, of course, avoids him like a heart attack.) But he also chats to regular customers in an attempt to show that his extremist face-filling isn't that far away from the habits of many Americans. Okay, so his argument doesn't always convince. But if Super Size Me has little new to say about our fast-food nation, as a public health warning it's still witty, distressing and compelling enough to make that next Happy Meal stick in your throat.