Super Size Me (12A)<br/>Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (12A)<br/>Envy (12A)<br/>Wicker Park (12A)<br/>Carmen (15)<br/>The Isle (18)

One Big Mac to go (away for ever) please
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The Independent Culture

Super Size Me (12A) is a light-hearted investigation of America's fast-food industry. It looks into numerous aspects of the country's "obesity epidemic", but its sky-high concept is that Morgan Spurlock, its personable writer/director/star, eats nothing but McDonald's, three meals a day, for a month. It's horrific. When your mother told you that if you ate any more burgers you'd turn into one, she wasn't far wrong.

Super Size Me (12A) is a light-hearted investigation of America's fast-food industry. It looks into numerous aspects of the country's "obesity epidemic", but its sky-high concept is that Morgan Spurlock, its personable writer/director/star, eats nothing but McDonald's, three meals a day, for a month. It's horrific. When your mother told you that if you ate any more burgers you'd turn into one, she wasn't far wrong.

Even after 30 days of grease-guzzling, Spurlock is still a quarter of Michael Moore's size, but his film-making resembles Moore's in several ways. Spurlock has Moore's tendency to skip from topic to topic, so he gets a few laughs and gasps from each of his themes but he doesn't get to the bottom of any of them. He's serving up a plate of McNuggets rather than a well-balanced, nutritious meal. Still, there's no doubt that Super Size Me is an entertaining film. And an effective one: McDonald's has had to take out newspaper ads defending its food.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (12A) stars Will Ferrell as a newsreader in early-1970s San Diego who has all the pompous vanity of Dr Frasier Crane - comedy's other local media celeb - and none of the brains. He and his colleagues are the town's own Rat Pack until - in a development that's been rehearsed in at least two Frasier episodes - a woman (Christina Applegate) joins the channel and challenges Burgundy's dominance. At a time when American TV's news coverage is almost beyond parody, it seems a shame that Anchorman has so little satire and so much silliness. The film is really just an extended sketch about imbecilic men who wear lots of nylon, with no sane characters to counterbalance the heightened cartoonishness. It's quite funny, though.

Anchorman has cameos from Ben Stiller and Jack Black, alongside half a dozen more of Ferrell's chums. Stiller and Black also star in their own film this week. In Barry Levinson's Envy (12A), Black dreams up a spray that makes dog dirt evaporate, and becomes a zillionaire overnight, much to the chagrin of his best friend and neighbour, Stiller. Despite the stratospheric comic aptitude of its stars, Envy just doesn't know what it's doing. It's supposed to be about jealousy, and yet half of it is about someone trying to dispose of a dead horse. Surely some mistake.

In Wicker Park (12A), a Hollywood remake of L'Appartement, a Chicago advertising executive (Josh Hartnett) is about to propose to his girlfriend when he thinks he catches a glimpse of an old flame (Diane Kruger) who vanished without trace two years earlier. As he picks up her trail, multiple flashbacks piece together the truth of her disappearance and reappearance, but Hartnett seems more of a befuddled schoolboy than a despairing Hitchcockian hero, and there are approximately 23 contrivances and co-incidences too many.

Paz Vega is well cast as the fiery gypsy seductress in Carmen (15), a film that misses out Bizet's music and goes back to the source novel by Prosper Merimee. It's a slow and stately progression through the story that gives the viewer plenty of time - too much time - to admire the landscape both of Andalusia and of Vega's body. But the intensity never builds to an operatic pitch. Even as Carmen's sexual allure draws a soldier, Leonardo Sbaraglia, into a life of crime and murder, the pair behave as if they're a disgruntled old married couple.

Kim Ki-duk's The Isle (18) is set on an isolated lake where anglers rent floating huts from a silent, sultry attendant. She's a damaged woman who sells sex to her clients with no more hesitation or emotion than she sells them coffee and bait, but she senses a kindred spirit in her latest customer, a suicidal man on the run from a murder charge. In a film which throngs with memorable ideas and images, sweeping from Arcadian beauty to black comedy to repulsive horror, the butchering of a live fish is by no means the most extreme act we witness.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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