Director: Morgan Spurlock
Running Time: 93 mins
Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! is an American documentary that follows Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) as he ventures into the belly of the beast that is the fast food industry, examining whether recent health-oriented trends are more than just skin-deep, all the while working to set up his own honest chicken restaurant.
Morgan Spurlock’s ingenious and scathing indictment on the fast food industry that was 2004’s Super Size Me created a lot of waves, and its sequel threatens to do just the same.
While perhaps not as audacious as its predecessor, Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! is a brilliant documentary that blends passionate, fascinating and challenging insight with clever humour, tempered discourse and a well-varied thematic focus – arguably going even further into the mechanics of modern fast food than Super Size Me ever did.
There’s a lot to say about why this documentary works so well, but above all, it’s the way that it tackles difficult topics that really stands out in the mind. Countless documentaries have looked into themes of animal rights, the food industry, big business corruption and more, but I can’t think of another that tackles all those themes simultaneously, and does it in an accessible and brilliantly level-headed fashion.
While all those topics are undeniably important and definitely controversial, films can often be caught up in an emotional discourse that just isn’t as interesting or convincing as something a little more grounded. Super Size Me 2, on the other hand, gives penetrating and bold insight while remaining almost entirely grounded, and that makes an enormous difference.
From its assessment of animal rights to corruption in big business, from opaque marketing strategies to the health effects of fast food, Super Size Me 2 never feels like a heavy-handed lecture, but more an active, balanced and impressively honest documentary.
Now, there are of course things about the film that are skewed one way or another, but the fact that Spurlock throws himself into the deep end by becoming part of the very industry that he criticises is eternally more persuasive and convincing.
The film isn’t a vengeful, hyperbolic exposé on fast food, but its first-hand account of the practices, realities and controversies within the industry are striking to say the least, and with Spurlock’s passionate direction and insight playing strongly throughout, the film has so much to say.
But even more than a thematically rich documentary, Super Size Me 2 carries on its predecessor’s memorable sense of humour and irony. Much like Spurlock’s do-or-die energy all the way through his 30-day McDonald’s diet last time out, the irony as he works to set up his own fast food restaurant while simultaneously criticising the practices that he needs to employ is fantastic.
And although the film’s final message is a little more muddled than perhaps intended, it’s a clever and original blend of ideas that makes the film all the more enjoyable and captivating.
So all in all, Super Size Me 2 is a brilliant documentary throughout. With varied, level-headed, insightful and persuasive discourse from beginning to end, it tackles topics that are more often than not handled with heavy-handed emotion, all the while providing shocking and enthralling first-hand insight into the realities of the fast food industry.
Couple that with a clever, anarchic sense of humour and irony, and the documentary is never the painful lecture that you might fear it to be. Instead, it’s an enjoyable, engrossing, convincing and brilliantly original film, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.2 overall.