Published May 05, 2011It's funny that somewhere around the midway point of Morgan Spurlock's latest gimmicky documentary, he has a conversation with Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand, Rush Hour 3) about artistic integrity and selling out, seeing as Spurlock actually seems like the documentary equivalent of Ratner, whose goofy propensity for "more is more" is actually laughable. And much like Ratner's particular oeuvre of films, Spurlock's latest documentary on product placement suffers from the same superficial glibness as his previous outings, going for the one-liner and flippant presentation rather than actually saying anything particularly useful.
The impetus of POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is that Spurlock is trying to finance an entire documentary about product placement using product placement, making the movie itself about the process of making a movie about product placement. Essentially, he runs around to various corporate meetings making pitches, talking of branding and whatnot, trying to find companies willing to externalize and advertise their desire for consumer recognition.
Initially, this gentle mockery of the awkwardness of commercial interruption passes the time with an abundance of laughs, playing off the obviousness of drinking a POM Wonderful beverage during a discussion about the evils of creating a culture of desire and interrupting Ralph Nader to extol the virtues of Merrell brand shoes. There's even a particularly hilarious sequence involving a product called "Mane & Tail" — a shampoo for humans and horses alike — wherein Spurlock tries to keep a straight face while pitching a commercial about him and his son sharing a bathtub with a Shetland pony.
But the laughs don't last and Spurlock is far more concerned with his image than analyzing the nature of product placement and consumer passivity. An interview with Noam Chomsky ostensibly reiterates the fifth season of Angel and another interview briefly expands upon the dangers of teaching children that identity is formed through material ownership. But mostly it's Spurlock making cracks about pomegranate juice helping erectile dysfunction and the insincerity of marketing.
This is fine, but it ultimately relegates this doc to a "brand" or "identity" of passing entertainment and nothing more. (Mongrel Media)