Review: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold


Product integration is everywhere in this day and age, some subtle and some not so subtle. You’re either one of those people who notices every product placement and roll your eyes in disagreement or are completely oblivious to it, effectively being brainwashed by big corporations. Then there’s the case where a Mountain Dew vending machine turns into a Transformer and you wonder how the hell it got this bad and do they think we’re idiots? Has product placement gotten so absurd that seeing such an obvious attempt at grabbing our hard earned money discourages us from ever buying that product? 

In comes Morgan Spurlock with Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a documentary about product placement that is wrought with and is financed completely through product placements. Will this ridiculous experiment in selling out show us the error in our ways, or will it showcase an important conversation about the relationship between advertising and film?

The concept behind Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is the exploration of a simple yet interesting experiment. Famous documentarian Morgan Spurlock financed a documentary about product integration in film solely through product integration, using subversive yet obvious product placement throughout the film. What unfolds is a narrative about the making of the film you are currently watching, following Spurlock and his entry into the marketing world as he tries to pitch this idea to several companies and attempt to gain financing for the movie by essentially “selling out”.

Off the bat, what really sets this documentary apart is its unique narrative. The beginning, middle and end play out like the different stages of production, ranging from the elevator pitch to the late night talk show circuit. It offers this out of body experience of watching a movie about a movie being made and it is in fact the movie you are watching unfold before your eyes. The film builds a meta experiment of being shilled to while having an important discussion about “selling out”.

Additionally, there’s a steady stream of information peppered in between the “making of” segments, providing for a well rounded experience that is both thought provoking and entertaining. The panel of experts also helps balance the film out, creating a well-rounded flow that prevents the movie from being one big joke. A variety of perspectives are offered from noted authors to CEOs of big marketing firms to those in the entertainment industry, each offering a unique anecdotes and thoughts involving the world of product integration. Highlights include Big Boi of Outkast talking about changing lyrics to a song for a few extra dollars and, most importantly, Bret Rattner essentially admitting he’s a sell out. 

But enough about “learning”; the product integration in Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold easily makes for the most entertaining bits of the film. Essentially stretching out the product placement bit from the first Wayne’s World movie, the film would effortlessly transition into these awkward mini commercials in which Spurlock will look into the camera and shamelessly sell you a product. The product placement in the film is so terribly obvious, but because it’s done so tongue in cheek, it becomes entertainment rather than shilling. By the end of the movie, you find yourself playing a Where’s Waldo game of product placement, providing for this odd sense of interaction between the viewer and the film. With such an abundance product placements, it’s surprising that Spurlock managed to not make it a distraction and instead essentially make it the spirit of the movie.

However, the film isn’t without its faults. There are these two segments that stick out like a sore thumb, displaced from the rest of the film. In one segment Spurlock visits a town in Brazil in which public advertisements are banned and business in the town has been largely unaffected as a result of it. In the other segment, he visits a public school in Florida that isn’t allowed to supplement their dwindling budget with advertisements due to protest from the parents/government. Though these segments have some relevancy to the subject matter, they’re obvious attempts at hamming up the audience and the film could’ve done without them.

In true Spurlock fashion, Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is one of those documentaries that truly has fun with itself. Though there’s a place for documentaries that exude an air of deadly seriousness, it’s refreshing to watch a documentary that’s both entertaining and thought provoking. Unlike Supersize Me, PWP: TGMES (awesome acronym, btw) never really gets too preachy or biased. With little malice and criticism, the film provides a sincere conversation about product integration and even finds itself playing devil’s advocate once in awhile. Though the subject matter is fairly obvious to anyone who’s lived in America for more than 4 weeks, it’s still a charming experiment that will entertain as well as stroke the brain.

Interesting side note: Throughout the movie, after seeing every guest drink a bottle of Pom, I had an insatiable craving for Pom. As I exited the screening, low and behold, there’s a table set out with all the products featured in the movie along with a large cooler filled with Pom. I threw in about five bottles in my backpack and I’ve been steadily drinking the stuff ever since. Much like every other movie with product integration, their tactics worked, and I feel like a sucker to succumbing to it.