What an embarrassing title. Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! is another example of the quote unquote documentary filmmaker peddling his brand of Gen-X whining as cultural and critical complaint. I was an impressionable 16-year old when Spurlock’s 2004 documentary, Super Size Me, entered the cultural conversation and even then I found his gonzo journey of eating nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days to be juvenile. Fast-forward 15 years and Spurlock’s follow-up is impossibly more jejune and inconsequential than his predecessor, relying on a series of hackneyed formal devices that serve to lecture rote banalities. Spurlock isn’t a documentarian. Or a filmmaker. Instead he’s perpetually auditioning to be a late-night talk show host, constantly mugging for the camera, insisting upon his moral, ethical, and intellectual superiority.
This Vice article masquerading as a documentary covers such a broad swath of subjects that, in its efforts to understand everything, ceases to mean anything. The narrative crux involves Spurlock’s attempts to make his own fast food, chicken-oriented restaurant. He meets with boardroom marketers as they breakdown the various methodologies employed to fool the American public into their continued consumption of fast food through buzzwords and misleading advertising. I could feel myself biodegrade with every instance of the use of the term “health halo” as Spurlock fecklessly attempts to construct his own chain. He gets tripped up by his own celebrity and, as is his wont, indulges in excess to realize his fantasy – including purchasing his own chicken farm. Littered throughout this egocentric experiment are man-on-the-street surveys of randos as Spurlock tests consumer knowledge on the naïve masses. And it wouldn’t be Spurlock without a crash course in calorie consumption as the filmmaker provides his own consumer dollars to the problem.
Spurlock’s tonal insistence is one of a post-modern variety. As the film builds to its inane conclusion, Spurlock repurposes an abandoned Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio to test out his new restaurant. But here’s the twist: the food’s garbage, but ornating the establishment’s walls are word salads and narrative tidbits about how and why said food is shit. He’s blown this whole thing wide open. See, now I’m deploying the post-modern technique known as sarcasm and self-referrentialism. Look, Spurlock’s shtick of irony was at its expiration date in ’04 and is practically a skeleton in ‘19. Irony’s intention was always to reassure us of our own knowledge, but here he’s using it as a shame tactic, an old man yelling at the clouds about a problem so classifiably minute when compared to the climate of our contemporary society. Spurlock’s greatest stroke of luck is having the benefit of being born 25 years before the rest of us and monetizing a pre-Tik-Tok video conceit into a feature “documentary”. Get the fuck outta here.