Morgan Spurlock is back...but his hiatus may have been longer than you've realized (more on that in a bit). But this is one example where you should try separating the message from the messenger, because there is a lot of important, eye-opening stuff to swallow here in his latest doc.
Morgan Spurlock famously weighed in on fast food with his transformative, Oscar-nominated 2004 documentary, "Super Size Me." In that film, he inserted himself into the story by eating ONLY fast food from McDonalds, and in the process he uncovered the health risks associated with eating fast food...an industry that made over 570 BILLION dollars last year worldwide. He's made many documentaries since then, but he's back at the scene of the original crime with "Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!," which is many ways is just as effective and jaw-dropping as the first.
But speaking of "crime," you may find it interesting to note that this film was actually slated for release in 2017...so why was it delayed two full years? Well, I'm glad you asked. The reason is because at that time - in the height of the #MeToo movement - Spurlock voluntarily came out and stepped down from his production company after he admitted to having committed sexual misconduct in the past. This included infidelity as well as squashing a sexual harassment lawsuit before it became public. The "admittance" was presumably proactive, so that he could control his own narrative and spin without suffering the fate of others like Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein.
This "nugget" (see what I did there?) of information is quite powerful, and it may make you avoid anything Spurlock is involved with moving forward. For sure, this knowledge of Spurlock's personal life makes watching him act the fool in "Super Size Me 2" that much more cringe-worthy and uncomfortable. Take this for what it's worth.
If you do decide to watch, you will be absolutely floored by what Spurlock uncovers. In pulling back the curtain on the fast food industry, Spurlock attempts and succeeds in opening his own fast food chain, specializing in chicken. He takes us through every part of the process, from raising the perfect chicken to crafting the perfect menu. He exposes how little has changed since his first documentary, even though it seems like the industry has guided itself towards more healthy and humane practices.
As he does best, Spurlock's doc calls bullshit on several things that should be obvious to the average American, who are instead oblivious to what really goes on behind-the-scenes. Did you know, for example, that the term "cage-free" is a complete bullshit term, as in chickens WERE NEVER KEPT IN CAGES. Or that the term "free range," according to government regulations, just means that a chicken must have "access" to an open outdoor environment...a ridiculous premise that Spurlock lampoons by introducing us to his "free range" chickens, who are still cooped up in a an area smaller than the size of most bathrooms.
And that's not even the half of it. The most eye-opening part of the film is what is going on between the "big chicken" industry with their powerful lobbyists in Washington, and how they deal with your every-day, hard-working chicken farmers. It's a racket, and it'll make you angry. And in fact, if you have hesitations in watching this movie because of your reservations with Morgan Spurlock himself, watch it for the chicken farmers who risked their livelihoods in attempting to expose the evils that go on behind closed doors.
Apparently, the entire industry is a ruse that the American people eat up, literally. Did you know that grill marks are often "painted" on chicken? That all chicken comes from basically four different chicken processors, whether its a 5-star restaurant or a White Castle chicken slider? Or that the industry has slyly leaned its marketing towards creating a positive "health halo" around a food, even if said food is in no way, shape or form healthy? For example, the word "fried" has slowly been replaced with the better-perceived "crispy," and the word "artisan" is loosely thrown in front of everything from breads to beer, without an actual artist in sight. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Oddly enough, Spurlock's tongue-in-cheek approach doesn't quite work this time around, in that his solutions sort of poke fun at the real villain of his film: Stupid, uninformed American consumers. He joins the problem, instead of fixing the problem, hoping that we will rise up against our Popeye Chicken sandwiches and spicy nuggets once we are armed with the "truth."
The truth shall set you free, goes the saying, but when it comes to "Super Size Me 2," you'll still feel shackled...held captive by massive conglomerates of greedy, wealthy power-mongers who will never have the best interest of your family or this country's health in mind. It only goes to angers you...especially when you realize that we're nowhere near real, tangible change, and like these poor chickens, we're being pacified and handicapped, as we're herded towards the slaughter.
Run Time: 1 hour 33 minutes.
Directed by Morgan Spurlock ("Rats," "Mansome," "Super Size Me").
"Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!" is available in limited-release and streaming on Friday, September 13th, 2019.
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