Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
by M. Faust
When Morgan Spurlock made a splash with his 2004 film Super Size Me, he seemed like the perfect fellow for a niche that needed to be filled: a documentarian with a pleasant personality to follow in the wake of Michael Moore, a humorist unlikely to make as many enemies. Like Moore he made himself an integral part of his story, exposing the dangers of fast food by eating nothing but McDonald’s for an entire month and monitoring the effects it had on his body and life.
His follow-up film, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, was less of a success, largely because his premise was one that couldn’t be met. For this third movie, Spurlock wanted to examine the new ways advertisers have found to implant their logos on our brains now that we’ve become so good at avoiding TV commercials with on-demand programming and DVRs. In particular, he’s interested in what used to be called “product placement”—the practice of advertisers paying to have their products displayed within blockbuster movies.
Spurlock’s gimmick here is to offer his own film up for sale, documenting the process of pitching it to advertisers and showing us what they demand in return for their money. The results are pleasant enough to watch—with his urban good-old-boy looks that are less than network perfect and easy wit, Spurlock talks to any advertiser willing to listen, from international powerhouses to a regional manufacturer of horse shampoo trying to expand their market to humans. (The winner of the rights to the title, as you can see, was Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice.)
But in the end it’s more entertaining than it is informative. The downside of bringing advertisers in on the game is that it mutes his critique: Aside from one pitchee who is shown blatantly lying to the camera, there are no “gotcha” moments, no revelation of previously unknown insidious practices. We get a picture of how the process works, which is unlikely to surprise too many people. And whether he meant to or not, Spurlock ends up making us think nice things about the folk who had the good humor to support him—after seeing his movie, the next time I was at the grocery store I bought a bottle of Pom Wonderful.
Watch the trailer for Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
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