Remember the scene in Wayne's World where Wayne and Garth protest creative interference from the sponsors of their cable access show while blatantly shilling for Reebok, Pizza Hut, etc.? Morgan Spurlock's POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is that joke repeated for 88 cynical and insulting minutes. The gimmick: Spurlock sets off to explore and demonstrate the ever-proliferating phenomenon of product placement by having his film—the very film you're watching!—completely sponsored by products and services, including Jetblue, Ban, Sheetz, and Amy's Kitchen. He succeeds, which intentionally results in ethical contradictions: explaining the deceptive nature of product labels, Spurlock does so in what amounts to a mid-movie commercial for POM that—in the name of transparency—was previously shown being suggested by that company's higher-ups.
By throwing back the curtain on meetings with the ad executives and marketing minds that influence its content, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold supposedly subverts the act of selling out—this is corporate whoredom with a purpose. Except that purpose is staggeringly vacuous: there's not one morsel of information in the film that tells viewers anything they didn't know about the ubiquity of advertising or the collusion between Madison Avenue and the entertainment industry. The real answer to what Spurlock sees as the commodification of everyday life is to refuse to buy in: rather than fill the aching void of existence with soft drink-sponsored, network television plug-fests, occasionally write a letter or plant a garden or whale on a punching bag. After an obnoxious meta-assault of advertising Spurlock arrives at the same obvious conclusion, asterixed by a spot for Merrill. By performing such wink-nudge ironies with his trademark smug self-regard, Spurlock proves the only brand he's really selling is himself.
Opens April 22