POM Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

HARRY SHUKMAN reviews Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary on advertising to see if it’s a match for Super Size Me.

Advertising documentary Film film review McDonalds mel gibson morgan spurlock

Directed by Morgan Spurlock

[rating: 3/5]

After force-feeding his way through 30 days of non-stop super-sized McDonalds and then travelling from Morocco to Afghanistan looking for Osama Bin Laden, Morgan Spurlock is out to show just how much advertising there is in Hollywood.

And this meta-documentary (I say meta, because the usual behind-the-screens process of pre-production takes up the entire the 90 minutes) sees Spurlock attempting to exchange funding for advertising space to product placement agencies and corporations. He manages to secure sponsorship ranging from the refreshing, healthy POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice to the cleansing, moisturising Mane ‘n Tail shampoo fit for humans and horses. You can’t argue with that kind of convenience.

 Buying ad space in the buff: Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary

While the idea is interesting, and Spurlock’s style of film-making balances inquisitiveness and humour perfectly, there is a drawback: to get so closely involved in the inner-workings of product placement, he had to agree to the demands of the brands who fund the film.

This means that he is required to wear Old Navy clothes and Merrill footwear, drive a Mini, only drink the omnipresent POM Wonderful, and even blur out other drinks on screen to eliminate the competition.

And while it’s funny to see him try to pitch a TV commercial for the positive effects of POM Wonderful on erectile dysfunction, other than a short trip to the advertisement-free city of São Paulo, we mostly see Spurlock in the boardroom fulfilling contractual obligations.

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t have the same stomach-churning bravado as downing burgers for 30 days straight, or taking a Where’s Waldo? approach to finding (until recently) public enemy number one somewhere in the Afghan mountains.

Still, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a light, entertaining look at the sheer presence of on-screen advertising, and just how far companies will go to make you buy their brand.

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