Monday, August 18, 2008

What Would Jesus Buy/Super High Me

Apparantly, Morgan Spurlock has given rise to a whole cottage industry of wacky, vaguely political documentaries. Supersize Me may end up being the Clerks of the 00's.

Nothing wrong with that, mind you. In fact, I like the idea of easily-disrtibuted political propoganda DVD's. Getting someone to watch The Corporation seems like a very easy way to win them to our side of the argument, and takes a lot less convincing than getting them to read Chomsky or Zinn. And if you can make a funny, entertaining movie while doing it, why not? Spurlock's Michael Moore Lite style serves him well on Supersize Me. The hook of watching Spurlock destroy his body on McDonald's drags you in, but the meat of the movie is all the bits of research and information that he throws at you between visits to the doctor (it also works against him, since so many people refuse to watch the movie based on the hook--"I already know McDonald's is bad for you! You're not supposed to eat it every day!").

And that's basically what's missing from these two docs. They have the hook, but not the research. Take Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. The guy's a fairly entertaining performance artist making a pretty good point, so you'd think just following him around with a camera would be entertaining enough. I never really got bored watching What Would Jesus Buy?, but I can't say it made much of an impression on me. It was like watching Friends--kind of passively entertaining, you know? But this movie is really like what the detractors expect Supersize to be. There are no great revelations beyond what you get from the hook, and the same points could be made in about 5 minutes without losing any great entertainment value.

I actually liked Super High Me, wherein comedian Doug Benson goes 30 days without smoking dope, then 30 days without not smoking dope, a little better. Little doubt that this is because Benson is a fairly funny entertainer (Rev. Billy is really just not that funny), and interacts with a lot of other very funny comics. But again, you don't come out of this film with any greater understanding of the politics or physiological effects of marijuana use. It's just a guy following Doug Benson around while he does or doesn't smoke pot. And it's not like I don't get enough of watching comedians smoke pot in my life.

I'm hoping for better from Bill Maher's Religulous, which is opening in October--coincidentally on the same day as this future classic:


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