Last night I had a chance to go to a small screening of Morgan Spurlock’s- get ready for this, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (that’s a super sized title!). Known as the documentarian that brought the juggernaut McDonalds to it’s knees, Spurlock is taking on an even a bigger behemoth, the world of advertising. And this David has more than a few stones to knock down Goliath.
The concept is innovative so let me attempt to explain it. This documentary meta-adventure is about the grueling process of making a movie WHILE being the movie at the same time. It’s an attempt to be completely transparent on how movies get made and how sponsorships influence the end product. Spurlock starts with a concept then meets with advertisers, brand developers, consumer specialists, the brands themselves, movie industry leaders, and a lot of every day common consumers. On the Jummy Kimmel show, it is refereed as the ‘Inception’ of documentaries with its world within a world reality. One moment, we are following Spurlock in to pitch a commercial for one of his brands, the next we are seamlessly in the commercial for that product. If you remember Wayne’s World (1992), there was a scene when Wayne and Garth rip on those that ‘sell out’ for product placement while they are simultaneously promoting products. GMES has plenty of similar moments which lead to many laugh-out-loud moments. However, while this movie is filled with creative product placements with POM Wonderful bottles, Hilton Hotels, JetBlue planes, and Mini Coopers, it also has some genuinely thought provoking moments.
GMES raises the continually growing tension of art vs commerce. The delicate balance of when the consumer and brand relationship shifts from symbiotic to parasitic. As a filmmaker and storyteller, Spurlock is really faced with the dilemma of defending artistic integrity. We are forced to ask, is there room for that in this commercialized booming world we live in. My favorite part of GMES is when he visits the Brazilian city of San Paulo. Years ago, city officials banned all public advertisements thus affecting crime and commerce in a positive way. Seeing the images of an ‘ad-free’ city was a little disorienting but inspired me believe that we don’t have to be driven by marketing. San Paulo gave me hope that we might someday live in a world with no commercials on TV, pop up ads on websites, or billboards on the streets. It asks the question of who is in control of who? More importantly, Spurock casts a vision for a human centered existence free of visual clutter and pollution.
As with Super Size Me and Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden, Spurlock presents the material in a witty and compelling style. Without diluting the seriousness of the issue, he is able to poke fun at his own expense. His all immersive approach of storytelling gives him the credibility to speak into the subject instead of throwing rocks at it from afar. Unlike pessimistic filmmakers like Michael Moore, Spurlock comes off as a genuinely likable guy. He is an everyday guy with a world challenging vision.
I had no real issues with the movie except that it might not appeal to certain demographics. Having a design/advertising degree and having worked as an Art Director in the past, GMES was extremely relevant to me. Living in a fast food dependent culture is what made Super Size Me enormously successful. However, while GMES might not have that same level of appeal, it is executed at a level that surpasses all of his previous works.
So the question remains, after all the product placement during the movie, did it really affect me as a viewer? Well, by the end of it, I was dying to have a POM Wonderful (for the first time), which I thoroughly enjoyed as shown in the picture below with the man himself.
I give Greatest Movie Ever Sold a 4 Babbles out of 5: