Sundance 2011: Spurlock's 'Greatest Movie Ever Sold' is Fantastic
by Alex Billington
January 23, 2011
Anyone who watches TV or movies is inherently familiar with product placement. It's prevalent everywhere you go and in nearly every movie we watch, especially as marketing becomes more and more intrusive. But no one has ever tried to make a documentary about that, funded entirely with product placement, until now. Morgan Spurlock, the acclaimed documentarian behind Super Size Me and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden, premiered his new documentary titled The Greatest Movie Ever Sold at Sundance and damn was it awesome. Never thought I'd use the word "awesome" to describe a documentary, but this deserves it!
Without giving anyway too much, the film, being released in March/April, is officially (and legally) titled POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Yes, he did actually fund and make the movie entirely with sponsorship and product placement, but it's a very entertaining and fascinating look into that world and how it all works. At the base of Spurlock's concept is the consideration that big blockbusters like Iron Man and Transformers, which were huge hits, have all kinds of product placement that helped make them successful. So if he wants to make a "doc-buster", he needs tons of product placement, too. Right?
Spurlock not only address the dilemma of product placement, as it's all too often
sometimes intrusive and excessive, but he slams the door wide open for audiences to follow as he tries to - and in the process does - make a movie full of product placement. It's one of the most meta films you will ever see, mostly because Spurlock completely transparently shows us what it's like to pitch this film, take meetings with companies looking to sponsor, and actually fit product placement into his doc (complete with actual commercials and lots more promotion to come when it's released). It's fascinating and thoroughly entertaining and incredibly funny, too. If I can say this and get away with it, I think he truly knocked this one out of the park. I loved it!
What he achieves so well with this doc is providing us with an unobstructed perspective on how advertising and product placement works. It seems like a film that no major corporations or studios want anyone to see, because it shows exactly how they take advantage of audiences, but I suggest everyone see it. Spurlock is one of those guys who not only comes up with a captivating concept and does an amazing job of exploring it in full detail, but takes it and runs with it as fast and far as he can. We're in for an experience once this hits theaters, as there's going to be plenty of real life cross-promotion to come, but that's what makes it so great.
Alex's Sundance Rating: 9 out of 10