One thing that has really surprised me thus far at the festival is just how many fantastic documentaries have been on show! Boundary-pushing Oscar-nominated Morgan Spurlock is a true expert in his field. With profitable and Internationally successful films like Super Size Me and Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? under his belt, I had quite high expectations for The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, but Morgan delivered. This is a hilarious, educational and seriously well crafted documentary that is based around such a simple, yet such a clever concept.
In Super Size Me, Morgan questioned how junk food affects our bodies – in this movie he investigates how modern advertising messes with our minds. Using the same style as his previous films – where Morgan basically takes you on a personal journey, where he talks to camera as if you’re in the room with him – in this film he takes the quest to the comic extreme by seeking corporate sponsors to entirely finance his movie – approaching major brands (such as Pom Wonderful and Hyatt hotels), and really obscure brands (such as Mane ‘n Tail Shampoo – a shampoo suitable for both humans and horses!). Why would any organisation in their rightful mind support this crazy venture? Because Morgan promises to promote their product as the greatest – drink, shoe, hotel, car, you name it – in the world, then he documents what they expect in return.
While using brands in film promotion is certainly not new for Hollywood (just look at films like I, Robot), it certainly is new territory for documentaries. Morgan exploits the phenomenon to new heights (possibly even to the absolute upper limit!), with everything from branded pizza boxes, in-flight film promotions to basically branding a whole primary school. He also explores the other extreme, where he visits a Brazilian city, where all advertising has been legally banned – there is not a single billboard or poster in the whole city!
This film is fantastic – the revelations throughout the film are both hilarious and horrific. He skilfully raises our awareness of how product placement works in entertainment, sports, and even school. He also shows just how far companies and advertising agencies go to craft a commercial that scientifically is proven to be effective with its’ viewers.
I love Morgan Spurlock. Although he certainly has his skeptics – he’s no doubt one of the kings of commercially viable, and internationally successful documentaries. This film was a joy to watch – and what was equally as good was the question and answer session after the movie. Morgan is such an intelligent and inspiring man – I cannot recommend his films or seeing him in person highly enough. Although his films are obviously a comedy – they also generate a huge amount of discussion and really highlight some very important issues in society. I love this man’s work – and can’t wait to see what he does with his next doco which is already in pre-production!