The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, it immediately sounded like it could have the potential to be a fascinating study of movie product placement - something which now drives the modern film industry. Then I found out that it was helmed by Morgan Spurlock and my expectations were somewhat skewered. With that said, I actually quite like Spurlock himself (who often comes across as a well humoured, good sport) but his previous documentaries have often left me more infuriated than informed. Super Size Me was essentially an extended Jackass skit, which said hardly anything that wasnt already crystal clear about the fast food industry. With The Greatest Movie Ever Sold there is immediately an enormous history weighing down on the documentary. Product placement is a process which has spanned decades of filmmaking, and something which - for better or worse - continues to grow and grow. Therefore, combining such a fascinating but hardly explored subject matter with Spurlocks enthusiastic and fearless personality has the potential for greatness. Unfortunately, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a bit of a missed opportunity, but one thats pretty fun nonetheless. Rather than examining product placement in a straight-up documentary style, Spurlock documents his efforts to literally produce a movie which is funded entirely by corporate sponsorship and advertising. The result of this is that the majority of the movie is spent watching amusing board meeting discussions, with Spurlock trying to win over potential marketing deals for the movie. Its also pretty funny that unbeknownst to many of those being filmed by Spurlock, the hypothetical film that theyre discussing is unfolding before their very eyes. Its for this reason that the first half of the documentary proves to be the most worthwhile, with Spurlock exploring how movie product placement actually gets off the ground. Throwing himself from company to company, Spurlock finds himself on the end of both derision as well as surprise enthusiasm from a variety of brands, most notably POM Wonderful - who eventually go so far as to buy the rights to advertise in the movies title. Spurlock also explores how its actually possible to handpick a brand to advertise, brilliantly selecting a line of shampoo called Mane n Tail which is suitable for use on both humans and horses. Theres also plenty of laughs to be had in the way that Spurlock integrates his products throughout the film with legitimate ad-spots and commercials. It's not long before the biggest problem for Spurlock becomes keeping hold of rights to the final cut, with percentages and rights being quickly lapped up by sponsors, who also force pages and pages of contracted stipulations into his lap. Its often hilarious watching Spurlock butting heads with corporate suits over ideas for potential adverts, with a pitch on the erection boosting powers of POM Wonderful being a particular highlight. As the documentary meanders on, it become fast apparent that Spurlock has little aim beyond finally giving his film the ridiculous luxury of being the first documentary to appear on fast-food packaging and shampoo bottles. Beyond some fleeting interviews with such figures as Quentin Tarantino and J.J Abrams, very little discussion is made on how product placement actually effects not only the final product, but the filmmaker themselves. Spurlock himself shows hardly any fret, enthusiastically lapping up every ounce of the process - complete with brand covered jacket. Perhaps Spurlock deserves applause for not pulling a Michael Moore, and actually allowing the material to speak for itself without ramming a point home. Yet its also for this reason that this documentary feels so inconsequential and unfocused - his intentions seemingly being to raise more laughs than questions. You also get the idea that despite maintaining complete creative control, the process of walking a tightrope between pleasing his sponsors and poking fun at the advertising industry has been a major factor in how fluffy the end result is. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is undoubtedly funny, and very enjoyable if youve got an interest in the subject matter. Sadly it doesnt really offer much else beyond another example of how far Spurlock is willing to sell his dignity for a documentary Again.
rating:3.0The Greatest Movie Ever Sold comes to DVD (but mysteriously not Blu-ray) with a small but decent selection of bonus features. There's two incredibly short behind-the-scenes looks at some of the movie's amusing ad-spots, as well as the option to watch all of the adverts in a handy edited reel. The best added content can be found within the deleted and extended scenes, which offers 40 minutes of snipped interviews. Many of these offer a far more in-depth exploration of product placement than is found within the feature itself. You'll also find extended interviews here from directors such as Brett Ratner, Quentin Tarantino and Peter Berg. Behind-The-Scenes Deleted Scenes Extended Scenes The Greatest Commercials You'll Ever See The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is released on DVD today from Universal.