The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Directed by: Morgan Spurlock Cast: Morgan Spurlock, J.J Abrams, Ralph Nader, Donald Trump Running Time: 1 hr 28 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: April 22, 2011 (Chicago)
PLOT: Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock has set out to do what no filmmaker has done before: fund his entire feature project with product placement. Spurlock captures every step of his film's construction, as we witness the many meetings, agreements and denials that lead to his funding and alliance with various brands. All of this happens in order to create The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Everyone and anyone. There's hardly anything political here, and the content isn't important to just any age limit. If you've ever seen a movie before, especially at a multiplex, you'll be able to identify with Spurlock, and thus be equally horrified with him.
EXPECTATIONS: Spurlock makes documentaries that can be instantly appealing with one line. Once I heard that this was "A documentary about product placement that is funded by only product placement," I knew I was in for something interesting. While some say he misfired with his previous Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?, this could be a heroic return to the spotlight for that guy who once ate a bunch of McDonald's for thirty days.
TALKING: The talking head spectrum of Greatest Movie Ever Sold is vast, with appearances by numerous executives in suits to a cynical Ralph Nader to Quentin Tarantino to Donald Trump. Spurlock is always a welcome presence on camera, and the humor is rarely malicious to directly make fun of those who are being interviewed. One of the most interesting features of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is how much it portrays the self-consciousness of a company with its image, both good and bad. Each company, (sans the deodorant folk) has this hyper awareness of their image. Score: 7
SIGHTS: Spurlock has the cameras rolling right from the beginning of the project. It’s as if the moment the concept came up, he started filming. And here, he captures everything. From his many executive lunches to meetings to all of the rejections in between, and that’s just the first act. With so much material, (and other angles covered throughout the movie) the film still manages a brisk pace that keeps it a slick, thoughtful viewing. As for comedic moments, Spurlock’s commercials for certain companies are the funniest parts of the entire film, even if he’s just in the pitching process. Score: 7
SOUNDS: The soundtrack is a mix of classical music “top hits” with a few modern tunes exclusively for the movie. Matt & Kim team up with Big Boi for a song called “CameraBuggin’.” OK GO are asked in the middle of the movie to write a theme song, which they follow through with – “The Greatest Song I’ve Ever Heard.” It obviously doesn’t live up to its winking title. Yet even for an OK GO song, it’s not that special – it borrows directly from an earlier OK GO song, "No Sign of Life," and sounds like everything else off their latest album, “Of The Colour of the Blue Sky.” Score: 6
BEST SCENE: It’s difficult to choose which commercial is the best, but his commercial pitch to his leading company is the funniest.
ENDING: After all of this, it's up to the viewers. Will enough people venture out to see a documentary full with ads?
REWATCHABILITY: This one certainly has replay value, especially when sharing it with friends, co-workers, family members, or anyone else that takes recommendations. It would still be funny on the first round, but it won't make you feel any less dirty.
Morgan Spurlock always super sizes his audacious Morgan vs. Goliath doc concepts. He challenged a human being’s immunity to a fast food menu with Super Size Me, and then journeyed around the world in hopes of meeting mega-elusive super terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Now, with his very funny new documentary, he has attempted to make The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. While Spurlock may not have made the truly greatest film to feature product placement (just those two previous words open a whole can movie list worms) he has certainly made the sluttiest, and proudly so.
Considering Spurlock's goals, that's actually a compliment. Plus, he's made his process of being bought and whored out by various companies (of which I will not list in this review, denying them any more exposure) into a highly entertaining piece of reflexive movie-making, one that will certainly create awareness to various subjects. At times it's exploration into the world of product placement can be hilarious, or it can be a bit disturbing. Though it has a small tendency to say the oft-repeated, oft-helpless statement of "advertisements are everywhere!", The Greatest Movie Ever Made works best as an examination of how obtrusive the obvious placement of products in movies can be. You'll never miss a specific soda can in a movie again.
While Spurlock is successful with his concept, his coverage feeds the absurdity of product placement right back to us, and makes the whole gist difficult to swallow. He's so aggressive with the idea that we eventually start to turn on his own endeavor - a film that takes product placement much more extreme than a transforming soda machine, (Transformers), or a pit stop at a fast food restaurant (The Day the Earth Stood Still). Regardless of how alluring his film is, the movie’s concept, which forces it to maintain an overwhelming barrage of ads and brand names, is always difficult to accept. Thankfully, though he carries around with names of various sponsors like an actually branded corporate cow, this independent filmmaker did maintain the dignity of getting final cut.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10