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Film review: ‘POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’

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Morgan Spurlock takes on product placement in “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”

Morgan Spurlock has a history of making snappy documentaries about fundamentally stupid subjects. His first big hit, Super Size Me, successfully proved that eating every meal at McDonald’s will ruin your health, which was a bit like demonstrating that 300 daily somersaults will screw up your back. The answer to the title question of his second feature, Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?, was not Abbottabad, and it turned out that the film’s real question was: Could Muslims (get this!) perhaps be ordinary people just like you and me? (A: They are!) Now comes POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, in which Spurlock tackles the world of product placement, his cutesy gimmick being that he’s financing the movie entirely via product placement.

The Details

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Three stars
Directed by Morgan Spurlock
Rated PG-13
Beyond the Weekly
Official Movie Site
IMDb: POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Rotten Tomatoes: POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

In one respect, this may be the ideal subject for Spurlock, a glib but engaging showman whose primary goal in all of his work is to sell himself. Watching him invade boardrooms and try to explain to befuddled execs how their particular brand of deodorant will figure into a documentary that explains to the audience why they’re seeing that particular brand of deodorant—well, it’s hard not to laugh, really. The movie isn’t very informative, or even terribly original (there was a skit-length version of this idea way back in Wayne’s World, and probably far earlier), but it’s more entertaining than you might think, mostly because Spurlock’s jolly faux-sincerity bounces hilariously off of the marketing folks, who are unsure of just how to deal with someone who’s seeking to simultaneously expose them and use them.

At the same time, however, being bombarded with products for an hour and a half, in a context that makes you unusually conscious of the bombardment, eventually grows tiresome. And while Spurlock tries to mix things up with celebrity interviews (Quentin Tarantino talks about his failed past attempts to use a certain national restaurant chain) and a trip to São Paulo (where outdoor advertising is banned), the film’s structure inevitably starts to feel repetitive: pitch a sponsor, then combine a doc info-nugget with an ironic visual representation of the sponsor’s product. After a while, I was ready to head for my particular make of midsize four-door sedan and go down an ice-cold popular imported beer.

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