Sony Pictures Classics | Release Date: April 22, 2011
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May 16, 2011
This time, doc director Morgan Spurlock takes product placement to the ultimate level. He determines to finance the film entirely from sponsors and we are treated to his process. Turns out it's is not just informative, but highly entertaining.
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May 23, 2011
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. After twenty-nine days of eating nothing but McDonald's fare, the filmmaker can hardly make it up the stairs to his apartment. To the camera, the subject reports on experiencing hot flashes, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. The food porn of "Super-Size Me" could have easily turned into a self-induced snuff film. As a result of his study, this human guinea pig gained twenty-five pounds, saw a major spike in his cholesterol, and had a liver described to him by an attending physician as being "pickled". What an idiot, right? One-and-a-half films later, somebody finally concurs, a Ban executive, albeit for the provocateur's latest stunt, the self-reflexive deconstruction of product placement for the meta-documentary "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold", adding that , "[Morgan Spurlock] thinks all Americans are idiots," too. Well, does he? While Spurlock may possess the same cheeky sense of humor as Michael Moore, he's a lot more objective, playing down the crusader bit that Moore favors. In the matter of the lawsuit against McDonald's which charged the fast food restaurant chain with making two teenaged girls unduly large, the filmmaker comes down on the side of the corporate defendant, rightfully so, in his estimation, since "most of us know it isn't good for you to begin with." Whereas Moore uses music to poke fun at the enemy("Believe it or Not" was employed in "Fahrenheit 9/11" to illustrate Bush's shortcomings as a great American hero), his closest descendant of the "pop doc" wave employs songs like "Fat-Bottomed Girls" and "Fat" at the expense of the people he's purported to champion in his role as an advocate for change. The idea that consumers are helpless against the exorbitant direct media advertising budget of a behemoth such as Pepsi is weakened considerably by the asserted inference of overweight people being inherently hilarious. The deodorant executive's words, despite being tongue-in-cheek, nevertheless echoes a similar sentiment made by Martha Bernays about her father, public relations pioneer Edward Bernays, in "The Century of Self", saying that "[her] father believed the people were too stupid to meaningfully participate in a democracy." To help remedy his misanthropic worldview of mankind, Bernays had co-opted Freud's theories about the irrational forces of the subconscious mind as a way to manipulate the masses into believing that material things could bring them happiness. The peacetime propagandist helped orchestrate the country's shift from a needs to a desire culture by psychoanalytic means, in which he circumvented consumers' intellects and made an appeal to their emotions. People entering the new decade of the 1940s comprised the first generation of Americans who presumed that democracy and capitalism were conceptually interlinked. They were conditioned into accepting that a healthy democracy wasn't defined by active citizenry, but passive consumerism. In "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold", Spurlock trades in his muckraking shoes for a nice pair of Merrells. It suits him well. To paraphrase Bernay's daughter who ideologically opposed President Roosevelt's New Deal for being unfriendly to big business, Spurlock appears to uphold a homologous pessimism, suggesting that people are too stupid to meaningfully participate in a consumer culture without a paternal hand for guidance. Is he joking? Most of us have seen "The Truman Show", not to mention the increasing number of television shows and movies that's seemingly predicated on product placement, a Bernays invention which allows companies to market their wares within the context of an artistic setting. Done right, according to J.J. Abrams, it makes the characters seem more real, like in "E.T." when the alien pops open a can of Bud, but more often than not, the brand name upstages the actors and becomes the focal point of the scene, just the way the company wants it. An indie filmmaker by definition, Spurlock banks on his cachet as a paragon of the anti-establishment when he shills for his proposed film in the corporate boardrooms of Jet-Blue, Hyatt Hotels, and Amy's Kitchen, among others. The audience is supposed to be shocked that the guy who made "Super-Size Me" is selling out. But they're not. In the wake of a meeting with his lawyer, the filmmaker is less a documentarian than a raconteur, as he expresses apprehension about the possibility of artistic compromise, due to the stipulations in the contract made by the pomegranate juice company. The concern is a disingenuous one because he already should, and probably does know, that corporate interference is part and parcel in the marketing game. Being no babe in the woods, the filmmaker was no doubt counting on the roadblock to help with the film's dramatic arc. Arguably, his indie cred was lost right out of the chute, since "Super-Size Me" is nothing but product placement, a dissonant commercial, yet a commercial nevertheless.… Expand
Jun 1, 2011
I absolutely loved this movie! It is completely hilarious, caught my attention the entire movie, and I left the theater with a smile on my face. I highly recommend this movie - I hope Morgan hits his $10,000,000 goal so that POM WonderfulI absolutely loved this movie! It is completely hilarious, caught my attention the entire movie, and I left the theater with a smile on my face. I highly recommend this movie - I hope Morgan hits his $10,000,000 goal so that POM Wonderful will pay for their sponsorship of the movie. In what other film will you see the filmmaker bathing a pony in a tub?… Expand
Feb 27, 2013
The film is perhaps too light-hearted and not as cutting as it needs to be but it retains its message throughout, albeit to different extents.
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