T he greatest movie ever sold is an exciting experience of hilarious ingenuity and insightful exploratory documentary. This is a film that has a certain degree of rewatchability not only because of it’s comedic moments and awkward gags, it also provides an interesting insight into the marketing, advertising and product placement strategies, employed by some of the biggest brands and how they affect movies and blockbuster today.
From director Morgan Spurlock, the master behind the hit documentary Supersize Me and Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden, this film essentially follows Spurlock trying to discover the effects that product placement and advertising has on people. The premise behind the film is simple: movies and in particular blockbusters market a ton of different brands and those brands in turn sponsor the movie. Spurlock then decides to put that to the test and see if he can use product placement and a strong amount of advertising to make a feature film. To do this, he has to go through a series of different channels – all of which leads him to question the notion of creative control over the product.
The film addresses many issues, one of which is how advertising and marketing populate our lives. We see it everywhere around us; billboards, tv commercials, buses and sidewalks. The film ultimately tries to make a point that advertising has disrupted the beauty and aesthetics of our world. We spend more time reading the messages that companies feed us and it ultimately affects how we lead our daily lives. Whether or not the companies are big or small, they are all eager to sell their product and the film basically establishes that companies would go to any length to do so as long as it’s in their interest.
Spurlock compares the bustling and wall covered streets of Fifth Avenue to the city of Sao Paulo where outdoor advertising has been all but banned. Here, posters, billboards and the like are non-existent that the only way that people advertise their business is by way of the Internet or by word of mouth. At the end of the film however, Spurlock makes a point that beauty and aesthetics in nature is an idealistic notion and that advertising forever exist in some corner of society.
The documentary then goes on and interweaves the notion of creative control. How much of the movie belongs to filmmaker, when there is a large sum of money involved that belongs to those who sponsor the film. With the advent of the summer blockbuster, the barrier between creative integrity and profit gain has blurred. It is common knowledge that there is a lot of money involved in a major blockbuster and the film ultimately tries to make a point that to turn a bigger profit, those blockbusters utilize a massive amounts of marketing strategies to attract a wider audience. Addressing the nature of a sell-out, Spurlock provides an interesting outlook into how an individual working in creative may protect their own artistic reputation or fall into the seeds of commercialization. Interviewing several key filmmakers and entertainment artist, the film provides us with just enough insight to spark further curiosity.
The film also examines the companies use of celebrity and star power to advertise their product. We live in a world where celebrities are idolized and screen appeal is everything. And celebrities using their screen appeal to advertise products means profit for the company. Spurlock interviews several people, some of whom have partnered with certain brands to promote their work, while others do so to make a profit from it. Once again it comes back to the notion of selling out and the film furthers this by examining how it helps their brand.
Similar to his previous works, there are many comedic moments throughout the film, most of which hits every single beat. Spurlock knows how to engage with an audience and this documentary works well when viewed with a large crowed. Greatest Movie Ever Sold is an enjoyable experience of comedic ingenuity and overall insightful.