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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, April 24, 2014 - Edition No 894 

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POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD

SYNOPSIS:
Morgan Spurlock takes an inside look at the marketing process behind closed doors, inside the pitch meetings and marketing presentations which ultimately inform our everyday entertainment decisions. Sponsors were provided with brand category exclusivity. The brands that agreed to sponsor the film placed Spurlock front and centre in their brand campaigns and advertisements, both on and off-line.

Review by Louise Keller:
Does advertising work? After watching Morgan Spurlock's new film Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, the answer is a big resounding YES. Before spilling the beans on the movie, let me first say how much I enjoyed the film. It's quite a rush. Logical, thought-provoking and disarmingly funny, the ubiquitous, smooth-talking, brash Spurlock explores the topic of product placement, visibility, fame and credibility as he shamelessly sells his idea to create a movie funded entirely by its sponsors.

I was happily surprised to find that the film does not rest on its novelty value, but has something informative and fascinating to observe. With the world's overload on commerciality, obsession about celebrity and our abundant exposure to being sold on every product under the sun, are we selling out - or, as Spurlock suggests, are we buying in? Pandora's Box of advertising tricks has never had so much fun.

After Spurlock spins his concept to a variety of people, he takes his spiel directly to the possible sponsors. There is a slew of rejections from major brands before firm handshakes take place over boardroom tables after sophisticated presentations. We are the fly-on-the-wall, as the negotiations take place. Spurlock is upfront about everything - from the amount of money the sponsors need to pay and what he has to give them in return.

Confidence sells: Spurlock has the gift of the gab and is not shy at coming forward. There are interviews with film directors including J.J. Abrams, Quentin Tarantino and Brett Ratner, the latter reinforcing the fact there is a reason for the inclusion of the word 'business' in the term 'the movie business'. Spurlock talks to the man in the street, media placement agencies, psychoanalysis companies, lawyers, musicians, New York and LA executives and visits Sao Paulo, where outdoor advertising has been banned.

Is he selling his integrity? Or is he being true to himself? Can everyone be a winner? Has society reached the stage that we have conditioned responses to advertising - like Pavlov's dogs? Do we have to go to sleep to avoid exposure to commercialism? It's all tasty food for thought.

By the way, did you know that Pom Wonderful is a 100% Pomegranate juice (with all kinds of beneficial properties) and which (as major sponsor), Spurlock drinks and praises. Hyatt Hotels are appealing (Spurlock luxuriates in appealing surroundings), Jet Blue Airlines get brand recognition and Mane & Tail shampoos for humans and horses (who did not pay anything to be included) get the Integrity Award (as well as a priceless scene involving Spurlock shampooing his hair in the bath with a child and a miniature horse). It's all wonderful.
First published in the Sun-Herald

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's sheer genius, in a Morgan Spurlock sort of way, to turn the product placement industry for movies inside out, with himself as the recipient of product placement largesse. Spurlock is selling to the salesmen, pitching his idea (and pitching it with verve, enthusiasm and a lot of preparation) that their brand would BE the story. It's product placement on steroids, or supersized, as he might have called it. (Supersize Me was his previous film.)

Disarmingly candid and playful, Spurlock takes us along via his cameraman to the initial meetings and pitches even before the film has been funded. That's the whole point, to make this business as transparent as possible. We meet ad men and marketing gurus, company owners and spruikers of various kinds, as well as hear a few words from controversial left wing academic Noam Chomsky and the original consumer advocate, Ralph Nader.

The film has great energy and keeps our attention as the tireless Spurlock flies around from New York to Los Angeles and even Sao Paolo, where all outdoor advertising billboards have been banned. It's a detour, but it's interesting.

Spurlock is the glue to the film and its inspiration; his gleeful marketing meetings and the focus on his own 'brand' is done with such disarming frankness that it doesn't seem like self promotion: he's chasing an idea for his movie, with something to say about the way marketing interests have become entwined with the movie business. He asks randomly if that's him selling out, but selling out is what you do when you discard your principles for cash. He made the pursuit of product placement his objective and never sold out by trying to make an artistic film.

Truth in advertising is what he has achieved.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD (M)
(US, 2011)

CAST: Documentary

PRODUCER: Keith Calder, Jeremy Chilnick, Abbie Hurewitz, Morgan Spurlock, Jessica Wu

DIRECTOR: Morgan Spurlock

SCRIPT: Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Chilnick

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daniel Maraccino

EDITOR: Tom Vogt

MUSIC: Jon Spurney

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 11, 2011







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