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Documentary
 

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold


Morgan Spurlock sells out — in a good way

Rod Lott May 24th, 2011

Health care, gun control, corporate influence, the war on terror — leave the big issues to Michael Moore. Let Morgan Spurlock tackle the fun stuff.

The Oscar-nominated pop documentarian (“Super Size Me”) has sold out — in a good way — to bring audiences “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” a film about how marketing and advertising is an inescapable part of our daily lives. So what? Spurlock’s twist is that his doc is completely funded by marketing and advertising, as he takes us through the process of brand integration and product placement.

In keeping with his theme of total transparency, I should note that I was neither paid nor incentivized to say that “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” is enormously entertaining. It opens Friday at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24.

In essence, there is no plot; the film is about him making the film, seeking ad partners for a work about ad partnering. How meta!

And how interesting. The piece follows Spurlock on his quest for cash, making pitches to corporations like POM Wonderful, JetBlue and Hyatt. Some are intrigued; many more, baffled.

Regardless of their receptiveness, Spurlock doesn’t make the company reps look like fools; some do that on their own. Perhaps the most alarming moment is when he asks a room of Ban execs what words they would use to describe their brand. In response, he receives uncomfortable silence and a hushed “Oh, that’s a good question.”

Spurlock also doesn’t vilify the $412 billion business of advertising, leaving audiences to form their own opinions. Personally, I believe advertising can be a good thing — you wouldn’t have Oklahoma Gazette without it — as long as you’re aware when you’re being advertised to.

If not exactly hard-hitting, the film is energetic, stimulating and often quite funny. Sold!

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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06.09.2011 at 11:39 Reply

It would have seemed that Morgan Spurlock had done society a favor when he made Super Size Me, by providing support for what we were sure was completely true.  Unfortunately, someone came along and tackled his arguement with equal fervor and left this viewer wondering about the validity of the documentary.  I am of course referring to the counter Super Size Me documentary called Fat Head which challenged Spurlocks findings, and even went on to show that weight loss was possible on an all fast food diet.  While I'm more apt to believe Spurlock's side of the story, Fat Head made some compelling arguements.  The biggest was that Spurlock doctored the outcome of Super Size Me by consuming more than what was the recommended daily calorie intake.  The fact that Spurlock refused to offer his food logs for his time spent making Super Size Me to the Fat Head director seemed really suspect as well.  Needless to say there are two sides to every story, and even though you say that The Greatest Movie Ever Sold leaves the audience to their own opinions, I can't help but wonder if perhaps, like all good documentarians, Spurlock was just really convincing in his execution.  By that I mean, convincing the viewer to the director's point of view without letting the viewer realise that it happened.

One thing is for sure.  I remember back in the day when you'd see someone on a TV show drinking a Coke which had an altered label on it for the sake of not being product placement.  But as a viewer, I noticed things like that, and it actually detracts from the authenticity of the world being portrayed on screen.  So advertising, in my own opinion, makes the movie/TV experience feel more real.  And perhaps it's the subtle product placements that have the best impact for the companies selling the product, since standard print/web/TV marketing has become so ubiquitious that it doesn't even register anymore.

Regardless of whether or not I believe all the conclusions that Spurlock draws, it will not prevent me from seeing The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.  I throughly enjoyed his FX series 30 days, and I look forward to seeing his documentaries, if only to see a view point outside my own.

 

 
 
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