‘The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated April 26th, 2011 at 8:58 am,

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Review

With documentaries like Super Size Me and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden - or even his TV series 30 Days, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock has carved out a niche as ‘that guy’ who doesn’t much tear down American culture so much as poke at and deconstruct it, while somehow also celebrating it. (Or, at the very least, acknowledging our shared cultural complacency.)

In The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (actually titled POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold), Spurlock sets his cultural insights on a new target: the world of marketing and the advertising industry. However, in a fabulous twist, the filmmaker partners with the very brands and advertisers he hopes to examine in order to make the very movie which will expose their inner workings. But, as the old marketing adage goes, ‘any exposure is good exposure.’

The premise is this: Morgan Spurlock wants to know more about the world of marketing/branding/advertising – a world he has become increasingly close with since his filmmaking career took off. But shooting a traditional documentary wouldn’t  be an effective way to peek inside the carefully-guarded doors of the marketing/advertising business. No, to truly get inside the business, Spurlock decides that he must go meta: he transforms his campaign to secure advertiser financing for his documentary into the subject of his documentary. And the result is a whole lot of ‘wink wink’ deconstructionist comedy.

Some people are turned off by documentaries because they feel that A) They are too preachy, B) They tend to be biased or slanted in some way, or C) The documentarian inserts him/herself into the film and is neither a trusted objective narrator, nor a universally loved character. The wonderfully refreshing thing about The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is that somehow in this twisted mess that Spurlock creates – where the roles of impartial observer, active participant, and total sellout become wholly amalgamated – a lot of the aforementioned objections to documentary filming ironically become null and void.

What we get is a fascinating experiment in meta-filmmaking that is both compulsively watchable and strangely balanced in terms of bias. If conservative viewers find their breath held fast when legendary consumer advocate/political icon Ralph Nader steps onscreen for an interview, they’ll be laughing out loud a minute later when Spurlock cleverly slips a moment of shameless product placement into Nader’s tirade against product placement, and totally hooks the longtime political pundit’s interest in the product. It’s both a moment of comedy gold and a sad revelation: advertising has become a force even more powerful than the two-headed beast of politics (gasp!).

Morgan Spurlock The Greatest Movie Ever Sold1 The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Review

What makes this film work, ultimately, is Spurlock himself. Making a meta-documentary is hard enough (as the term would imply), but without a ringmaster who is totally in control of the spin at all times, it would be impossible. Spurlock knows exactly how to play the different “characters” that are required of him at different times – and I mean that both literally and contractually. He knows exactly when to look at the camera and wink at us to let us in on yet another layer of meta-humor; he knows how to play his sleazy “pitch man” role straight while meeting with potential vendors and advertisers; he knows when to step back and play a more traditional documentarian role, providing us with actual facts about the world of advertising; he even knows when to turn his brain off completely to play the product-hocking caricature who is contractually obligated to place several actual commercials in his documentary. Finally, Spurlock is unafraid to call B.S. on himself; by the end of the film he freely admits that he himself no longer knows how tainted he’s become because of this process, or if he’s truly provided any great insight into our consumer culture, rather than simply selling out like so many others in Hollywood.

Speaking of Hollywood, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold has some wonderful cameos, including big name directors like Peter Berg, J.J. Abrams and Brett Ratner, as well as some of the leading names in movie marketing (product placement “specialists,” poster designers, etc…) who may not be familiar to the average person, but are known as demigods to all those in tinseltown who want their movie to succeed. Spurlock also ventures outside the movie biz to look at the larger picture of marketing/advertising “research,” which are some of the most interesting portions of the film. One scene involving a CAT san and an endless loop of commercials is straight out of A Clockwork Orange. Some additional bits include a trip to a South American town that has done away with all outdoor advertisements (a billboard-free metropolis is truly a revolutionary sight) and a Florida public school that has turned to shameless advertising in order to counter-balance the crippling budget cuts that are curtailing many academic programs.

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is something to see if only because it’s something that hasn’t really been done before. While it wisely avoids taking any serious political, moral or ethical stance, it does lose points for ultimately getting lost within in its own explorations, to that point that Spurlock’s final conclusions come off as somewhat weak and not that insightful. But then, it’s the nature of the beast he’s wrestling: we don’t yet have an answer for separating the often-parasitic business of marketing/advertising from our cultural DNA, so it would be foolish to assume that a guy selling out in order to let us in would have a simple answer for sale.

The film hits theaters in limited release on April 22nd.

Check out the trailer for POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold:

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

TAGS: 4 star movies, the greatest movie ever sold

41 Comments

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  1. i want to see this, but my theater will not get it :(

  2. I’m going to skip this one. In fact, I’m going to skip any other Spurlock movie that comes out.

  3. documentaries are supposed to be about truth. Spurlock is a fake and liar. He could not have gained the weight he claimed in “Super Size Me”. The calories don’t reach the required level based on what he says he ate. He would needed to eat double his claimed level. There is another documentary following the claimed eating guideline combined with very moderate exercise and that fil maker lost weight and actually got fairly ‘ripped’

    • Yes! Thank you! Spurlock is a fraud and everything in Super Size Me is one giant lie.
      Also, that movie you’re talking about exposing Super Size Me is called Fat Head.

    • Right. Someone ate McDonalds 3X a day for a month and with “moderate exercise” got ripped.

      My ass.

      Vic

      • Thank you for being the voice of reason, Vic.
        Didn’t want to be the one to call them out. =)

      • Vic, please check out Fat Head. The guy ate “healthy”, or about as healthy as you can get with fast food, for a month and ended up losing 12 pounds. It shows that Super Size Me was one giant lie.

        • BigFoot,

          I may do that, but there is NO denying that eating junk food every day is bad for you, not just in the weight gain department but what it does to you health-wise. I worked with guys who ate out at fast food restaurants every day for lunch and watched them (young, in their 20s) balloon up in size over the course of the three years I worked with them.

          To me, a documentary showing there’s no harm in fast food is FAR worse than Super Size Me.

          Vic

          • Of course, I understand that eating fast food is not good for you, but Fat Head DOESN’T show that it’s okay to eat fast food, it’s shows what’s wrong with Super Size Me and how we define “overweight” in America.

            • BigFoot,

              I define overweight as 90% of the pics you’ll see on http://www.peopleofwalmart.com.

              Vic

              • LOL!

                In all seriousness though, I’m 6’3, 190 lbs, and I run regularly, but according to the definition, I am overweight. All those football players that are in such great shape, they’re overweight too. It’s the BMI(Body Mass Index) that defines if we are or are not “overweight”. Fat Head goes into detail about this and explains how and why scientist;s started using the BMI to determine if someone is overweight.

                • BigFoot,

                  If you’re referring to BMI, I totally agree – that is a highly flawed approach.

                  Vic

      • Your ass got ripped? Sorry to hear that. Hope you are doing better now.

        • GJP,

          It was a rough recovery, but I’m much better, thanks. :-P

          Vic

    • Documentaries have never been about “truth”, all they are is a soapbox for someone to promote their view on a subject. Spurloc’s only advantage is that he’s an overall likable guy unlike that other “documentarian”. Also, I don’t think it’s fair to fault the film for not giving the answer to the question it asks, it’s meant to make you think about the question and come to your own conclusion. I saw “Super Size Me” and it opened my eyes but I’d be a liar if I said I haven’t had a Big Mac or a few McNuggets since I’ve seen the movie.

      Thanks BigFoot for identifying the counter to “Super Size Me”, I’d be interesting in checking that out, though I’m inclined to agree with Vic about his results.

      • why does it seem to me that we saw different films?

        In “Supersize Me”, my impression was that he was demonstrating “what would happen if I accepted the ‘supersize’ option every time it was offered”, on top of the “what would happen if I ONLY ate at McDonald’s for a month” (or however long it was).

        Am I the only person who actually got the gist of his film? “excess is bad, m’kay”.

        “Fathead”, on the other hand, attempts to be a “counter” to “Supersize Me” yet fails at the very first step. Spurlock ate three times a day at McDonald’s. Tom Naughton had ONE meal a day at McDonald’s. He did a whole month of normal exercise, and eating right, and went once a day to McDonald’s, where he ate a burger with no bun, and had no fries. Right from the start, he cannot state that he “ate fast food for a month and lost weight” in any comparable way to the manner in which Spurlock did it.

        Spurlock’s point was “excess is bad”.
        Tom Naughton’s point was “don’t eat carbs”. Oh, and “Spurlock is a douche”.

        All that said, Morgan Spurlock is VERY likable and I’m certain this movie will be as enjoyable and entertaining as his others. Whether I agree with his points or not.

  4. Thanks for the review that’s all I need to know.

    I won’t bother wasting my time watching a film about making fun of advertising by advertising being the joke of the film.

    A very hollow documentary at best this sounds more like a mocumentary.

    • I think this blends the line between the two- which is half the reason I’m interested. I think I’ll hunt this down when it arrives on DVD (eventually).

    • its quite interesting actually! its not making fun at advertising at all its kind of showing you how advertising works in some cases

  5. I’m actually an adult male, which means that I can watch this movie and continue to live my life normally while having a few more ideas about what each product will do for me.

    “Advertising is evil!” “Advertising is the devil!”
    Advertising is a pain in the ass… at best… ignore it and get on with your life.

    I will watch this movie. It looks like fun.

  6. CAT San? You guts need to proofread.

    • I think it means there were no cats. Most likely some sort of Canine led plot.

    • Computerized Axial Tomography

      No proofreading required.

      • Nevermind.

        Oh no, he forgot a “c”, the world is going to end.

    • What’s your problem, smart guy? CT scans are also called CAT scans:

      http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=bodyct

      So maybe you “guts” need to proofread (oh, how I LOVE irony).

      Vic

      • Me fail at English??? That UNPOSSIBLE!!!

        • I was board. You guts make me laph.

      • to be fair, there is no procedure for a poster here to edit/correct a typo in their comments, while the person who wrote the review has, well… at the very least a spell-check utility.
        just saying. for fairness’ sake.

      • I proof-read for 12 years, and just scrolling to read the comments I saw ‘CAT san’. You didn’t read as carefully, and procede to educate me?

        Call me ‘wise guy’? I am. I don’t need to read yer link ~ I know what a CT Scan is; I did that proofreading in the medical field.

        Anyway your posters should be able to proofread their own stuff. And you need to read more carefully before you try to hop-in on a thread you don’t even have a clue about.

        • Whatever. Get over yourself. Someone misses a letter in one word while commenting and you come down on them like a ton of bricks?

          BTW, I *did* like your reply to nowhereman – very funny (not being sarcastic).

          Vic

        • I had to finish this review minutes before going to a family funereal. If all I missed was one “c” in “scan” then I can live with that.

          I’ve also been a proof reader for years. Which is why I know to handle these situations in a much less emphatic and assuming way than “You guts need to proofread.”

          Cheers.

  7. Posting comments on spelling is about a boring as it gets!

    I’ve never read a comment or thread and felt the need to point out the grammar and spelling gafes unless it was CAPS LOCK bs or really obvious.

    Lifes too short and this isn’t a essay your going to be graded on.

  8. BTW…yes the world is going to end, and I’m gonna be pussed if it’s because a misspelling. What I think is funny is I got more comments than the movie! Har har!

    • *pissed.

  9. I wouldn’t click on Beach Creeps if you’ve just eaten dinner. :)

  10. Supersize Me was dumb because he acted like he was sick after eating McDonalds for a week, which is total bull, maybe if you eat only it for a month you would get sick, but you can go a week or two without getting sick from my personal experiences. I liked Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden though and Spurlock is a relatively likable guy, so this should be fun to watch, I’ll check it out.

    • Words,

      It was made clear in the film that he and his fiancee ate an extremely healthy diet prior to his doing this. I can tell you without a doubt that my wife would be sick as a dog very soon after starting to eat McDonalds as she has a very healthy diet that doesn’t include anything like high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats or other tons of chemicals and preservatives.

      Vic

    • Last time I had a fast food burger I nearly threw up. It had been a few years. I can easily see how it made him sick. If I had one now after not eating real meat in 1.5 years, I would be throwing up, not close to. It isn’t hard to understand that if you come from his perspective.

    • I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t feel sick after eating fast food one or two days in a row, for lunch or something, but 3 meals a day, for even a day or two would make me feel sick….it weighs you down and makes you feel tired, I would definitely feel sick after a week of only Mcdonalds.

  11. I don’t eat at McD’s like I used to.

    I recently had a quaterpounder there and it tasted like it was half made out of salt.

    I couldn’t eat that stuff for a month it would set my heath back years.

  12. This was a good movie. it makes you wanna re watch all your favorite movies to see product placements.

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