Twelve years after Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock’s first self-experimental delve into the fast food industry, the junk grub shunting documentarian returns with a not too hotly anticipated follow-up, but one that’s as surprisingly fun and enlightening as its predecessor. Instead of blitzing his body with McDonald’s for a month, Spurlock sets out to open his first fast food/ “fried” chicken restaurant; a shrewd marketing move considering the sequel and outlet will promote each other, but as a central concept, Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! lacks the lightbulb moment/ car-crash sales point compared to the original’s “what would happen if someone were to eat nothing but McDonald’s for a month?”. Yet Spurlock’s frontman charisma, film craft savvy and doc content make SSM2 as entertaining, edifying and educative as the original.
Spurlock relays his objective, aspirations and inspiration during the set-up then conducts market research by conversing with the public, industry spokespeople and specialists before approaching ad executives to devise a plan of action; breezily relaying facts and industry stats while interjecting japes, animation and Power-point diagrams with phlegmatic joie de vivre. Spurlock then scouts for potential properties and visits fast food outlets in Columbus, Ohio “the test market capital of America” to check out the competition. While there, and with cameras rolling, he revisits the “clown palace” (McDonalds) for the first time since the original film to try a burger and see how/ if it’s changed.
After an initially futile pursuit for poultry, Morgan acquires chickens through an independent Thackery; cue comedically spliced chicken calamities and unsettling shots of them stacked in crates, vaccinated then dispatched for slaughter. But Morgan keeps his peep serene, ensuring they are “living the chicken dream” compared to how most are reared. He then contacts the USDA for guidelines on how to make chickens free range, and to see if there is any enforceable legal definition for what “free range” means. Meanwhile, dubious business practices are uncovered when Spurlock connects ulterior motives with scheming MOs, chicken company conspiracies and corporate paranoia, but the end of Act 2 design process that follows the legislative cross-checking/ groundwork is a fitting segue-way into the finale.
Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! takes a short while to find its feet but becomes a ridiculously amusing, dissimilar and thought-provoking outing into the greasy realm of junk food retail. Spurlock recaptures the breezy air that graced his first film, which oddly compliments the grey area/matter rising from irregularities at the heart of the industry.
Punchy editing also sets a fitting pace to keep the viewer captivated while what Morgan uncovers makes SSM2 compelling while a nice surprise is kept back till the final act, augmenting the ending and business with greater purpose than fiscal gain. Despite the potential double product cross marketing MO, SSM2 resounds as a heart-felt follow-up and Spurlock’s best film since the original. This shows signs that he is growing as a documentarian/ industry spokesperson, and that this kind of investigative, industry focused comedy/ doc hybrid is probably Spurlock’s forte. Either that or his genius just buds while he’s gorging on junk as though ridding the earth of it, like some kind of saturated fat zapping super-hero.
SUPER SIZE ME 2: HOLY CHICKEN! is released On Demand from 9th December 2019