Ads are everywhere. They surround the buildings we frequent, plaster the publications we read and drive movies and entertainment.
In The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Morgan Spurlock takes a cheeky look at advertisements and product placement. In the film, Spurlock states, “What I want to do is make a film all about product placement, marketing and advertising, where the entire film is funded by product placement, marketing and advertising.” And he does exactly that.
The film is a refreshingly transparent look at product placement.
In an effort to expose the sneaky way brands advertise, Spurlock opens up the world of advertising and shows it exactly as it is.
From the beginning, Spurlock places himself in the advertising world to expose its truly amusing nature.
At the start of the film, Spurlock gets “branded.” He undergoes a hilarious, extensive psychological test and is eventually told what type of “brand” he is, and what other brands would mesh with him and donate to his film, which he calls “the Iron Man of documentaries.”
Spurlock then cold calls companies, asking for funding for his documentary and mostly getting turned down.
The film is composed of clips of Spurlock meeting with different company executives and pitching his idea for his film that, ultimately, sounds as if it will plummet their business.
Most executives don’t want to help fund a film that would expose the hilariously corrupt world of advertising and probably make their companies look bad, but Spurlock uses the companies that do accept him as proof that businesses will stop at nothing to advertise their products.
Spurlock calls his film a “doc-buster,” putting two things together one would not normally put in the same category: commercial funding and documentaries.
This duality is a running joke throughout the movie.
As Spurlock tries to unlock the mysteries of product placement in a realistic and informative way, he does so in a manner that embraces commercial advertisements.
To showcase the ridiculousness of the advertising world and the ease of product placement, Spurlock throws himself at any company that will fund his film, including JetBlue, Pom, Sheetz, Hyatt and Mane ‘n Tail, to name a few.
The film features hilarious, satirical advertisements — starring Spurlock himself — for these companies.
His ad for Mane ‘n Tail ends up being the most outrageous, as we see Spurlock sitting in a bathtub with his child and a horse, touting the benefits of the shampoo designed for both human and equestrian use.
Rather than directly attacking advertisers, Spurlock makes fun of them.
Spurlock’s points are grounded in legitimate facts and an intelligent view of product placement, and he manages to point out ridiculous things in a well-meaning, lovingly teasing kind of way.
But the film isn’t all humor.
Spurlock not only presents his own entertaining experiences, but also sits down to speak with other well-known names from all different parts of the advertising world.
Spurlock interviews Big Boi of Outkast, who talks about his problems with advertising, as well as some of the quickest thinkers in the ad world.
He even interviews Ralph Nader, and at one point pulls out a pair of Merrell shoes and begins to tell Nader about the benefits of the shoe company in a jokingly commercial way.
Throughout the film, as Spurlock makes himself something of a walking advertisement, he takes any opportunity to blatantly advertise the products that have funded the film and therefore continue criticizing the advertising world.
Bottles of Pom are in almost every shot; at one point during a TV interview, he wears a suit that is literally a billboard for all the film’s different supporters.
Documentaries have the reputation of being depressing, boring or both, but The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is the exact opposite. Not only is the film enjoyable, it is also witty and informative.
Although it presents a ridiculous and, to some, upsetting situation, it does so in the most hilarious of ways.
Spurlock is like a well-meaning class clown with the intellectual goods to back it up, and his irony and humor make this film a huge success.