Morgan Spurlock, probably better known by most of the world as Mr. Supersize Me, is known for his film “Supersize Me,” which uncovered the physical and psychological consequences that come from eating McDonalds daily. The film was incredibly entertaining, informative and often difficult to watch, being a tad grotesque at times (though rightly so). The film also touched on how the fast food industry encourages horrendous nutrition for the sole sake of profit (surprise, surprise). When the movie ended, I walked away sans appetite and without the expectation of ever seeing Spurlock create another equally fascinating movie. I certainly should have expected much, much more from the man who volunteered, essentially, to throw away five years of his life in 30 days by eating what is essentially toxic sludge and documenting it on film.
I also left sans the idea of ever being able to meet with Spurlock and I was wrong about that too. This brings us to his newest venture, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” Yes, that is the name of the movie. The response I received multiple times when telling people the name of the movie was, “Wait, what? Is that really the name or is that just your opinion?” Well, as it came to be, it was both. As Spurlock said during my interview with him, “If you can make people laugh, you can make people listen.” He hit the nail on the head.
“GMES” is a movie based completely on product placement in today’s world. To top it off, the film is completely paid for by companies as advertising. It’s a whole mind twist right there. Unless you don’t watch television, movies, drive by billboards, listen to the radio, have any connection to any form of media and you live under a rock, you have been affected by product placement. Sometimes it’s very subtle: a character from your favorite sitcom takes a sip from a coke bottle. Or sometimes it’s painfully obvious: director Michael Bay of Transformers set a record of 64 different advertisements throughout the movie. So allow me to correct myself and tell you that the movie is accurately titled, “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”
The film is brilliantly funny and wildly entertaining. It starts off with Spurlock making dry calls to hundreds of companies, pitching his ideas and receiving hundreds of not-so-apologetic declines from companies to sponsor the film, until Ban deodorant takes the jump and decides to be the first company on board. This was after nine months and over 600 rejections.
No matter what kind of synopsis I give you, it will in no way do the film justice. Just go see it. After you do, I guarantee you will giggle to yourself every time you see a “Mane n’ Tail” product – just trust me on that one. So instead of merely telling you about the movie, I’m going to share with you a little of the “behind the scenes” knowledge I got a little glimpse of when I met with the man himself, Morgan Spurlock, this past Friday, April 15.
Spurlock is a genius, in the sense that he did not let the sponsors get the final say in the project — although he did give all of the companies a disparity clause saying that there would be no slander against their brand. The movie shows the push-pull relationship between the artistic side of media and the overbearing parent that is the sponsoring companies. In reality, as Spurlock said, the movies made today simply would not be possible without product placement. They’re too expensive. There’s a fine line between little ways to make more money and ruining the integrity of the movie, television show or whatever it is that is being produced.
The whole idea of making the movie came while watching an episode of “Heroes.” It was a far, far too blatantly obvious ad where Hayden Panettiere’s character is surprised with a Nissan Rogue from her father, and the scene left Spurlock “dumbfound, [like] I had just watched a commercial right in the middle of this TV show.” He continued about “Heroes” saying, “The season one of ‘Heroes’ – one of the best seasons of a TV show that’s ever been created. The first season of that show was bananas it was so good. Season two jumped the shark like wildfire – like the wheels fell off that bus so fast. And a part of a reason for that was because of all the product placement that started being put in the show.”
Thus, the wheels started turning. Not to say that Spurlock is against product placement; he is well aware that it is necessary with the cost of productions today. Yet it is the awareness that he brings to light which is so fascinating, even going as far as venturing to the City of São Paulo to show a city that has completely banned outdoor advertising. The movie sparks a lot of thinking, and no better place to think about the movie than in “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Pennsylvania.” That’s right, for $25,000 Altoona, Pennsylvania has changed its name for two months the “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Pennsylvania.” Crazy what a bit of advertising can do. The real beauty of seeing this movie is that it is not merely two hours of mindless entertainment. It is incredibly mindful. I left this movie eager to see just what Morgan Spurlock will come up with next, knowing that he has no limits.