Director: Morgan Spurlock
Topic: Clever, somewhat humorous — yet very pointed — illustration of the fast food industry’s effect on America’s health and social welfare.
Financier: Spurlock financed the film himself with production funds left over from “I Bet You Will,” a game show he produced for MTV in 2002.
Shooting format: HD camera
Why it made the list: With American waistlines ballooning at unprecedented levels, the subject of the fastfood industry couldn’t be more timely. Spurlock’s innovative execution — documentarian as lab rat, eating only McDonald’s food for one month and monitoring the results — works perfectly. For that matter, so does the likable Spurlock as leading man.
Memorable scene: Three weeks into his all-McDonald’s diet, the doctors monitoring Spurlock — shocked by his rapid weight gain, spiraling cholesterol levels and ailing liver — strongly advise him to abort his monthlong experiment. A rather detached observer to the ravages on his own body up until that point, the suddenly sullen Spurlock has a tough personal decision to make, and the cameras are watching.
Distribution/broadcast status: Samuel Goldwyn Films and Roadside Attractions released the film theatrically in May. Hart Sharp Video put it out on DVD in September. Showtime has acquired pay TV rights.
Box office: $11.5 million
On making the film: “I was sitting on my mom’s couch back on Thanksgiving 2002, in a tryptophan haze, watching this news segment on TV about these girls who had sued McDonald’s. The suit exposed how McDonald’s targets kids, how they manufacture their food, and their less-than-forwardness about their food. I remember a spokesman being quoted at the time as saying, ‘You can’t link our food to these girls being sick or fat.’ Then the light went on: I turned to my vegan girlfriend and said, ‘There’s a basis for argument there.’ “