Review: Movie Popcorn Is Full Of Saturated Fat
(CSPI, 2009). Zero stars.
The Center For Science in the Public Interest released its latest horror story today, titled Movie Popcorn Is Full Of Saturated Fat. Actually, this latest effort is a remake of another CSPI horror story released 15 years ago, also titled Movie Popcorn Is Full Of Saturated Fat.
I’m wondering why a busy, successful media organization like CSPI has been reduced to producing a remake. This is, after all, the same group that managed to spend much of the past decade filling our screens with such screamers as Eggs Will Kill You, Gryos Are The Worst Food On Earth, The Coffee Killer, Fettucine Alfredo: Heart Attack On A Plate, and Monster Thickburger: Heart Attack In A Bun.
I can only guess that CSPI was affected by last year’s writers’ strike in Hollywood. Or perhaps executive producer Michael Jacobson has heard plenty of pitches for horror stories featuring newer faces in the food market, but none of them captured his fancy quite like the fatty, blobby monsters that built his media empire.
Either way, as any movie fan knows, remakes usually aren’t very good, and sadly this one is no exception. To be honest, this story barely qualifies as a remake. It’s closer to a straight repeat. Here’s a quote from the Los Angeles Times synopsis:
A medium-sized popcorn and medium soda at the nation’s largest movie chain pack the nutritional equivalent of three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, according to a report released today by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Lions and burgers and butter-pats … oh my! Every time CSPI wants to scare us with yet another version of The Thing That Contains Fat, they start tossing out the Quarter Pounders and the butter-pats. As the kids today say, Boooorrriiing! Maybe they should try producing their horror stories in 3-D so when they toss some butter at the camera, we’ll at least feel compelled to duck.
The biggest weakness with the current production is the casting. Once again, CSPI chose Coconut Oil as their bogie man — the same bad actor who appeared in their 1994 production. As the Los Angeles Times (perhaps trying to be helpful) explains:
One problem is that Regal and AMC, the two largest chains, pop their popcorn in coconut oil, which is about 90% saturated fat, noted Jayne Hurley, senior nutritionist at Washington-based CSPI.
Coconut Oil may have frightened audiences 15 years ago, but since then the oily substance has made an annoying habit of showing off its benefits. Far from being a heart-stopper, it’s been spotted in public fighting viruses, promoting healthy thyroid function, assisting in weight loss by boosting metabolisms, and protecting against cancer. Those are hardly the actions of an aspiring bogie-man.
I guess it’s fair to say CSPI has a talent for scary stories, but a tin ear for casting the principal actors. After releasing the original version of Movie Popcorn Is Full Of Saturated Fat, CSPI introduced Hydrogenated Soybean Oil as their latest action hero, dedicated to fighting heart disease. (Industry insiders have long insisted that CSPI received a hefy product-placement fee for their promotion efforts.)
Unfortunately, “Trans Fats,” as Hydrogenated Soybean Oil was dubbed by media, turned out to be a public relations disaster. Trans was soon implicated in a number of suspicious deaths, many induced by the very heart disease CSPI anointed Trans to battle. After first defending Trans in a flurry of press releases, CSPI later quietly abandoned the effort. Eventually they even began suing anyone who employed Trans — incredibly, without ever acknowledging they originally and enthusiastically promoted the frankenfat’s dubious career.
With Trans no longer on anyone’s A-list, CSPI is now promoting the career of Canola Oil — yet another Canadian hoping to capture the hearts of the American public by fighting the horrors of saturated fat. And indeed, Canola is everywhere these days. The trouble is, Canola Oil lacks natural talent. (No surprise, since it’s not natural for humans to consume oils chemically extracted from rapeseeds.) Canola Oil not only failed to capture the hearts of test audiences — laboratory rats and pigs — but apparently led to problems with bleeding and heart lesions.
Worse still for Jacobson, the public seems to be growing jaded. CSPI’s horror stories just aren’t eliciting the screams they once did. Again, as the Los Angeles Times explains:
“According to the most recent statistics from the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the average American attends six movies a year,” Regal said. “Theater popcorn and movie snacks are viewed as a treat and not intended to be part of a regular diet.”
It’s unclear if consumers would storm the concession stand for low-cal popcorn anyway. After the 1994 popcorn report, “many cinema operators responded by offering their patrons additional choices, such as air-popped popcorn,” the National Assn. of Theatre Owners said in a statement.
“After very little time, movie patrons in droves made their voices heard — they wanted the traditional popcorn back.”
Perhaps it’s time for CSPI to get out the business — or least bring back Coconut Oil in the kind of happy, feel-production it so richly deserves.