'Super Size Me 2' doc looks at fast food chicken, 'healthy' marketing
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TORONTO — In the 13 years since releasing his Oscar-nominated McDonald's-diet documentary "Super Size Me," Morgan Spurlock hasn't taken his eyes off the fast food industry.
"I've just been kind of hiding in the shadows," the New York-based filmmaker said with a laugh during a recent phone interview, ahead of a trip to Toronto for Friday's world premiere of the "Super Size Me" sequel.
No more 30-day meal plans consisting only of Golden Arches food for this father of two, though.
"Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken," which is screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, focuses on today's fast-food marketing trend of touting some meals as "healthy," "organic" and "natural."
Spurlock explores the truth behind those marketing claims by opening up his own Holy Chicken pop-up fast food outlet.
The producer, writer and director said he focused on chicken because it's "the most farmed animal on the planet."
"They are the animal that we eat more of, that there are more of, that is consumed in such a mass amount every single day," said Spurlock, whose other films include "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?"
"Chicken touches all of our lives in some way.... The majority of Americans and majority of people eat it — believe that it's better for us, believe that we're making better choices.
"And I think that you start to see as the film goes on that everything isn't always what it seems."
Cameras follow Spurlock as he starts his business from the ground up: raising poultry, creating menus, opening the restaurant and serving customers himself in Columbus, Ohio.
He said Holy Chicken is more of a "fast casual" than a fast food restaurant, a term used to denote higher quality ingredients. A Holy Chicken food truck was set to serve Toronto film fans on Friday.
Ultimately viewers will walk away with a greater understanding of the commercial food system and the knowledge that "what we're sold is not quite what we're buying," he said.
"I think 'Super Size Me' 1 did an amazing job of teeing up the personal choices that we make," said Spurlock.
"I think this now lets you understand what transformations have happened in the food industry in those last 13 years, what's changed for us from a sales point of view and what we're being sold and ultimately what choices should we be making moving forward."
As evidenced on his CNN series "Morgan Spurlock Inside Man," the 46-year-old tries to lead a healthy lifestyle these days.
"When I made the first film, it was just like me being an idiot and destroying my own body," he said. "I have two little kids that I have to look out for every day, so I don't want to do anything like that to them.
"I want to make sure they have better choices put in front of them and just better options."
His next film will look at advances in making people smarter through artificial intelligence, and he's also interested in documenting the era of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has publicly expressed a great fondness for fast food.
"I am quite interested in that amazing, orange man," said Spurlock. "There is something very Holy Chicken about him, because he does have that deep-fried glow."