The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011)

12 Sep

Just like Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock is a documentary maker with his own distinct style. Although he isn’t as political he likes to have the camera pointed at him. He always injects his documentaries with lots of humour, which (of course) won’t be everyone’s taste. Personally it’s something I enjoy and liked Supersize Me. Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden wasn’t as good, but I did like his segment in Freakonomics. Now he’s back with The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, where he looks into the world of branding, product placement and advertising in movies. Jimmy Kimmel called it “The Inception of documentaries”, but is it?

The subject of branding and product placement could be shown in various ways, but Spurlock gives it a very original twist. Instead of interviewing people from the industry on what the processes are and how it is done he decides he will investigate the subject by getting advertisers to pay for this documentary. This means he’s calling lots of brands asking them if they would be interested to appear in his film. Once they are interested he still has to visit them to pitch his ideas to get them on board. It’s an fascinating process to watch and the fact that he’s allowed to film while these meetings are going on just adds to the depth of the movie.

He manages to get various brands to sign up and because they give him a bunch of money he has to use their brands in the film. The way he does this is quite funny. When he’s talking about product placement with someone he is drinking POM Wonderful, who’s the main sponsor, or he’s doing interviews in a gas station/diner that’s also sponsoring him. He has several commercial breaks in the movie to show a commercial starring him talking about one of the products.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is interesting to watch and funny at times. It shows the whole process of getting people interested in handing over their money and Spurlock also interviews some people about the branding and it’s effect. It’s on this last subject where I felt the movie fell short and didn’t delve deep enough into it. He travels to Brazil to show Sao Paulo, which has banned advertising in public space. It’s very fascinating to see a city without billboards, but the segment is very short. Having watched several graffiti related documentaries I always hear the argument that we are bombarded by advertising, so why is that ok and graffiti isn’t. I would have liked to see more interviews on the effect this has had on the city and it’s art.

So is this the Inception of documentaries? Well, yes and no. Yes, because the movie is about him getting the sponsors for his movie while making a movie about this process, meanwhile advertising for the companies that payed him. No, because at the end I felt it didn’t go deep enough. It ended while I had the feeling “when is it going to start?”, which was very weird. I do think it’s worth watching as you will get a look into this industry in a way you have not seen before.

Score: 7

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