Maybe I'm just going to end up alienating everyone here, but I do think that both the critics and the fans of this film have valid points. So I'm going to take the approach that there are really two levels on which we need to look at "Super Size Me".
First, I take my hat off to the filmmakers simply as businesspeople. I hope that doesn't sound too cynical, but honestly, I do. This is a film that could have been - and very likely was - made on a zero budget. Or something very close to zero, at any rate. And yet it's obviously been a huge international hit, doubtless raking in moolah by the truckload. The result? An ROI (return on investment) approaching infinity. McDonalds themselves should be taking notes from this guy!
Not bad for someone whose business as a personal trainer was apparently in the process of going under.
Now for the actual message of the film. Is putting one man on a McDonalds-only diet a simplistic way of addressing the very real and very serious obesity epidemic plaguing not only America, but also the entire developed world? Of course it is! Nevertheless, there is a valid underlying point here. The proliferation of this kind of diet, and the power of the food industry to promote this diet unhindered, actually do represent serious social, medical, and ultimately even economic problems. Yes, poor health is an enormous drain on our economy.
As a way of addressing these problems, this film has all the depth and rigor of a sound bite. Whether you like progressive politics or not, "Super Size Me" doesn't even approach the level of analysis we get in films like The Corporation (2-Disc Special Edition)
or Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
But... as with any good sound bite, that's really ultimately irrelevant. It's not about analysis. It's about a grab for our attention. So as long as we understand that and treat this film as such, it may actually do a great deal of good. Because like it or not, the issues that it deals with do genuinely warrant our attention.
Like it or not, we do have a real problem here.