In new ad documentary, Spurlock sells out
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Category: Arts & Entertainment > Film & Television
Sporting a black blazer embroidered with sponsor logos, Morgan Spurlock stood on stage last week after a screening of his new documentary, explaining why he chose product placement as its subject. He was watching one of his favorite shows on television and all of a sudden found himself seamlessly placed right in the middle of a strategically disguised car ad. As he recalls it, Hayden Panettiere's character on "Heroes" is given a new car and screams "The Rogue? The Nissan Rogue!? Oh my God Dad, it's the Rogue!" as the camera pans across the car's logo.
"I was dumbfounded. I was like, I literally just watched a commercial in the middle of this TV show," Spurlock says. Thus was born the idea for his new film, "Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold."
You may recognize Spurlock from his 2004 documentary "Super Size Me," in which he criticized the hidden health risks of fast food by only eating McDonald's for an entire month. Now, he's moved on to criticizing the outrageous maneuvers of the advertising industry by exploring the comical world of product placement. But here's the Morgan Spurlock ironic twist: All 1.5 million of the film's budget is financed through product placement. The new film follows Spurlock as he pitches himself and his film to sponsor after sponsor in an attempt to sell out.
With a subject that may not initially register as the most exciting, Spurlock manages to spin his material into engaging comedy. Ridiculing advertisers by joining them, he goes as far as buying a school soccer team, wearing that NASCAR style suit and inserting blatant commercials into his film.
As the film progresses, each shot becomes more of an advertisement, a clever unifying thread that remarkably maintains its hilarity throughout the film. Spurlock pokes fun at business execs, as he pitches them ridiculous ideas for product placement, but makes himself the punchline by always keeping his word. He agrees to only drink Pom Wonderful juice, only fly JetBlue Airways, only fill his car at a Sheetz and only eat pizza from Amy's Kitchen throughout the entire film. On top of that, he insists on referring to all of these "official products" as "The Greatest (respective noun) ever (respective verb)."
Spurlock also manages to sneak in some prime docu-moments, including interviews on the topic of selling out with the likes of Donald Trump, Quentin Tarantino and Big Boi. There's this one part where he sells Ralph Nader the movie's "official shoe" - or as he would refer to it, "The Greatest Shoe Ever Made." While Spurlock knows how to get a laugh, at times the comedy detracts from the sincerity of his message, driving one to question how deeply he has actually considered the consequences of product placement. But really, how heavy are those consequences anyway?
More light-hearted than the somewhat unsettling "Super Size Me," "Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" is a feel-good documentary that gets the point across without leaving you direly concerned.As Spurlock puts it, he simply wants you to ask yourself, "Where do we draw the line?" before it gets too late. Spurlock has only gotten better at his ironically hypocritical documentary style, and "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" provides just enough depth for a documentary that you actually want to see.
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