Film Review: POM Wonderful Presents, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

| 3 August , 2011 | 1 Reply

Directed By: Morgan Spurlock
Starring: Morgan Spurlock
Sassi’s Star Rating: 3/5

In Morgan Spurlock\’s most recent documentary (the Oscar nominated director is perhaps best known for his 2004 film Super Size Me), the premise seems simple: to expose the influence of ‘super brands\’ on the film and television industry.

Spurlock sets himself the twin-pronged and formidable task of attempting to expose the influence of advertisers on the creation of films today, while at the same time having his own documentary film funded entirely by the advertisers themselves. Some could say that it\’s exposure through experience.

His tongue-in-cheek approach sees his own documentary loaded with overt product placement, and even mock commercials, in a bid to make clear the impact that such advertisers have over story and character choices.

The irony plainly illustrated here, is that even when the brands themselves come under critique in the documentary, those in Advertising Land recognise this as an opportunity to gain client promotion—and are willing to associate themselves with, and to actually invest in, this ‘anti-promotion\’. After all, cinemagoers will leave the theatre understanding the point-of-difference between POM and other juices, the benefits of Merrell footwear and even a shampoo that is equally good on humans and horses.

However, admirers of Morgan Spurlock\’s much-loved Supersize Me will likely leave feeling a touch unfulfilled with his latest serving. Although there are moments when his self-deprecating humour serves the topic well, his ambition to reveal the problematic influence that advertisers have on art—in this instance cinema—appears flaccid and somewhat unproblematic, with viewers leaving the cinema relatively unperturbed by the advertisers\’ apparently malevolent presence.

While the documentary manages to touch briefly on some very interesting points, such as the influence of marketing on children, and the need for schools to supplement their funding through allowing advertising in a previously ad-free space—sadly, these issues are treated with an all-too-light hand, and we, as an audience, are left wanting for a deeper exposition that never eventuates.

The film is a fine example of Spurlock\’s humour, and there are certainly laughs to be had. But, for those of us seeking to decry the death of art at the hands of wanton consumerism, be warned—you won\’t find a cause here. Most of us feel very little anger if the car in the latest blockbuster\’s high-speed chase is a Ford because they were the highest bidder. Rightly or wrongly, we no longer choose to pay attention to the line between films and brand endorsement.

We no longer question why Angelina Jolie is wearing Louis Vuitton, because we exist in a world where celebrity and endorsement are intermingled. Some may be concerned that this evades any notion of truth in advertising, but frankly, a documentary that blurs its own truth-finding with mockumentary seems to also be stricken with this conundrum.

While this latest from Spurlock has its thought-provoking moments, I must confess that I wanted it to do more.

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is in cinemas from August 11.


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Category: Film & TV

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