[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B004UXUVFW][/pullquote] Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 hit film, is arguably the most important documentary ever made. Exposing the horrifying world of fast food, the backlash from the film single handedly caused the industry to change its ways and was a huge PR disaster for McDonald’s. Spurlock’s follow up documentary – POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – sets out not to expose any individual corporation, but to expose the practice of brand cooperation in modern day films and TV between products and studios.
Rather than just create a dry sermon on how advertising has infiltrated visual media, it sets out with the task of telling this story whilst entirely being financed by its subject matter. To do this, Spurlock uses his considerable charm and pitching skills to present his idea to a number of corporations and asks them to fund anything from $25,000 and up. With a budget of $1.5m, the task is not small. Hence the above the line sponsor, (ed. the delicious) POM Wonderful, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
Initially, as one would expect given Spurlock’s track record, finding anyone interested in attaching their name to The Greatest Movie Ever Sold proves to be difficult. However, as the film progresses, glimmers of hope arise in the form of corporations who recognise that the film is not a derogatory exposÃ© of their advertising strategies but a piece that promotes awareness of the practice. Indeed, once you hear Spurlock’s pitch, you begin to wonder why more corporations do not get involved. After all, Super Size Me was such a huge hit in the documentary genre and Spurlock is such a media darling (in the right circles) that he could all but guarantee them built in cinema ticket sales and mainstream media followers.
The clever side of Spurlock is on display throughout The Greatest Movie Ever Sold as his ‘documentary within a documentary’ style makes us stop and think about how advertising has made corporate shills out of most production companies and how we are powerless to stop it. The timeline is also very clever – throughout we are seeing the process that should be completed before shooting and the final scenes of the film itself are Spurlock on the Jimmy Kimmel show which proclaims that “¦the film is in theatres this Friday!” – and some quick editing later, there it was.
The appeal of this one is perhaps more limited than Super Size Me given that not everyone is interested in how the media works but everyone has probably eaten a Big Mac in their time, however for those that give it a shot, it entertains whilst making you think which is what Spurlock does better than anyone.