The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011) – Doc Art Meets Con Art
30 Days was a great show. It’s where either Morgan Spurlock or someone he snookered, made a pact to dramatically change their lives and have the whole thing videotaped for thirty days. It was spun off the concept of Super Size Me, a vicious ripping of the fast food industry that actually had an impact on the culture. More nutritious options were added. More information was offered to the public. And you couldn’t say those three magic words at the Golden Arches ever again. Naturally, The Fat Man has a loathing for Morgan Spurlock that knows no bounds.
As I approached The Greatest Movie Ever Sold… oh, pardon, I said that wrong. POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, I was thinking that similarly Morgan was going to go in there and root out the evils of the advertising arms of the biggest most powerful coorporations on the planet. But apparently his reputation preceded him, and he wasn’t able to do shit.
Sure, he gets some executives to admit to some underhanded things while they nervously sign on to help produce the very movie we’re watching. And there are his usual suspects giving interviews, like Ralph Nader who later takes a turn for the seriously loopy as he puts a pair of Merrel shoes on his hands and walks them across a desk. But in general, it’s a bunch of hop-scotching from boring skyscraper to skyscraper hearing Morgan whine about his predicament about weighing the perils of selling out.
He kind of half-assedly gives the final argument that the two sides are co-dependent on one another. Advertisers need product placement to succeed and so do we in order to obtain cheaper forms of entertainment, and also products in some kind of harmonious circle-jerk. He calls it buying in, so therefore he throws out any of the contradictory ideas he flirts with during the process. After all, he can’t offend any of the advertisers he’s signed on to do this documentary about the concept of getting advertisers to completely pay for a documentary. Even if a statement at the bottom before the credits roll suggests they didn’t get to see the final cut before it was released.
Maybe somewhere he lost the point. Or I did. Or maybe the point was to con not only companies to spend money on this foolishness, but also audiences. After all, by the time POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was over, I felt like I’d just paid money to watch a bunch of ads. But at least they were up front about it, right?
Queer gives it a:
Morgan Spurlock is a lot like Yahoo® - good ideas (who doesn’t want searching, email, sports, personal ads, stocks, horoscopes, jobs, instant messaging, and games all on one site?) with terrible execution (come to think of it, I don’t want searching, email, sports, personal ads, stocks, horoscopes, jobs, instant messaging, and games all on one site). I like his ideas, but they’re generally are trying to hard to nail everybody on what he perceives are their misdeeds that his films get old quickly.
Despite his normal modus operandi, POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold in Association with Jet Blue, Ban, and Hyatt really surprised me on watchability. He sets out to sell product placement throughout a movie about product placement – good idea. The execution? Not bad, really. There were some very funny segments, like his Mane & Tale Shampoo commercial, to break up all the deadly serious talk about advertising and how it’s rotting our brains. I know Queer wanted Spurlock to be on a “kickin’ butt through the advertising world” tear, but he really didn’t have any mysteries to uncover. When someone on TV or in a movie uses a product, no viewer thinks that it was coincidence. We all know, to a certain extent, how advertising works.
What did I learn? You’ve got to sell out a bit to get money. Spurlock got to make his movie, the products got decent exposure. I had never heard of Ban or Sheetz until I saw this movie. I learned a bit about pitching your story, terms of the sponsorship, and how much legwork you have to go through to get your funding. I think I’ll stick to calling up doctors and dentists, thank you very much.
I have two main complaints about the film. First, the camera work was intensely annoying. I started getting furious every time I saw one of the “reality” scenes. Every time someone new spoke it was “zoom, zoom, focus”. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME! That’s crap. If it happens accidentally as you’re trying to quickly get the camera on someone new, so be it, but it’s not a shooting style. “Yeah, bra, I shoot soft… it’s my style.” That’s not a style, that’s just bad camera work. AUUUGHH!! Second, I don’t know why Brett Ratner’s bloated corpse has to be on-screen for any interviews about how Hollywood works. That’s just something personal – he once struck my mother, and I will never forgive him. He also ruined X-Men. Also unforgivable.
Greatest Movie Ever Sold? Not really. Entertaining? Sure. I wouldn’t bother watching again since I know I’ll just be screaming mad after remembering the dreadful camera action I’ll have to endure.
The Fat Man gives it: