‘The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ DVD Review
A review by G-FUNK
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Plot: Documentary film-maker Morgan Spurlock explored the world of modern advertising by trying to get the movie itself sponsored.
Review: I’d like to pose Morgan Spurlock a question concerning his smash hit film Supersize Me. What did people enjoy about the movie? Was it the human guinea pig approach to a topical issue or was it the goofy guy making a goofy documentary? The impression I get from this viewing experience is that Spurlock believes it to be the latter. This movie tackles an issue that effects every member of Western society, but it plays out like a guy with a camera trying to do a sketch comedy routine.
This isn’t the first media text to tackle advertising (the Australian television show The Gruen Transfer has been running successfully for years) but it is the first to become so involved in the process by showing of getting product placement in the movie itself. This is a double edged sword as Spurlock finds that he has less and less control over the movie as he sells parts of it to sponsors. This could be an interesting dynamic or conundrum if it didn’t feel like a gimmick.
During the first act, when Spurlock is approaching major companies for endorsement opportunities, he does seem as though he is treating the whole idea as a joke. It’s unsurprising that the business people, who no doubt consider themselves to be fairly serious people in their line of work, flat out turn him down. Many seem confused about what he’s trying to suggest as he gushes about his concept. It doesn’t help that he also seems to consider himself above them, starting out the film by sarcastically referring to them as the “poor, suffering big businesses” in the opening narrative. It reaches the point of being incredulous when Spurlock starts cold calling business and asking them for money, pulling a ‘typical big business’ expression when they turn him down. He expresses disdain when the fast food companies turn him down – considering his first film, were we supposed to be shocked by this?
One also gets the impression that he didn’t put much thought into the idea before he went ahead with it. He seems genuinely surprised when the sponsors send him a contract detailing the return that he promised and how much control they want over their products image. He seems fairly clueless about the topic on the whole with broad, sweeping generalisations that are blatantly false, the most obvious being the opening statement that companies used to only have television advertising to promote products. Spurlock also comments frequently on wanting to have lots of advertisers so he can be a big success like Iron Man. I’d like to think that there was more to that films success than the number of sponsors it had – liking being about RDJ wearing an awesome robot suit.
There are some good points being addressed in the movie, but they often get swamped under his attempts at goofiness. A very short sequence in which he talks to schools who have been forced to resort to taking on branding on their buildings and in classrooms. There’s a serious point to be made here, but things get derailed when Spurlock stands pointing and laughing at one of their banners while the school administrator looks on uncomfortably.
From the perspective of a film-maker this is also sloppy. The narrative wobbles around without a point to make. As much as he touts an anti-advertising attitude he is simultaneously trying to get his own ads working (for some reason the fruit juice company didn’t go for the television clip that revolved around him having a huge erection). And for the love of god, someone buy this man a tripod. The camera operator often looks drunk, constantly floating around and zooming in and out during interviews.
His closing statement of “Where-ever you look someone is trying to sell you something…the best I can do is show you that it’s out there” only serves to highlight the pointlessness of this project. He wanted to show us that there’s a lot of advertising out there? Newsflash: the advertisers have already taken care of that.
Score: TWO outta TEN