Sunday, January 1, 2012

Movie Sunday: POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Image from here

I have to admit that I am a big fan of Morgan Spurlock. Unlike most documentary filmmakers (will admit), he makes films about himself. Sort of like a thinking person's Jackass, his movies seem to start with Spurlock musing, "I wonder what would happen if I..."

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is Spurlock's answer to the question of what it would be like to make a movie about product placement -- or "brand integration" -- that was totally funded by product placement. The film tracks our hero as he learns about the advertisers' place in the movie business today, and how different filmmakers deal with it. There are numerous scenes with potential sponsors or industry consultants, and cameos by well known directors. I learned much more about modern entertainment than I wished to know, though probably less than I should.

If you think this sounds like watching the sausage being made, you are correct. But I think this is the genius of Morgan Spurlock. Through humor, honesty, and a seeming total lack of pretense, he is able to show us the seamy side of anything and somehow neutralize the revulsion. He almost killed himself eating McDonalds food, but watching him almost made me want to try it.* In this film, Spurlock takes us along as he tries to sell his soul while maintaining his integrity, and he really doesn't try to hide his struggle with maintaining the balance. He also serves up plenty of reminders of exactly how much we should trust someone who is being paid to recommend things.

It's not exactly Transformers 3, but I found it quite entertaining. If you like a good documentary, and you are at all curious about how much of what you see on your screen is there because someone is being paid to put it there, you should definitely see this film. We liked it so much we put Pom Wonderful bellinis on our Christmas morning menu.

* If you haven't seen SuperSize Me, you should probably watch it before (or instead of) this one. Besides being a more important film, it is probably a better introduction to Morgan Spurlock's unique brand of filmmaking.

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