| Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) is literally selling himself to the highest bidders in this cleverly conceived free enterprise marketing ploy disguised as a documentary about product placement and branding. He made this film possible by raising $1.5 million from 12 sponsors.
He wants you as a theater patron to buy in to this glorified infomercial and subject yourself to being bombarded by ads paid for by the companies that financed the film.
While sitting through this cinematic exercise in caveat emptor labeled by Spurlock as a “docbuster,” you slowly get the message that you’ve been hoodwinked into watching commercials for a variety of goods and services including fruit juice, an airline, a car manufacturer, a hotel chain, a clothing store, a mini-mart gas station, a deodorant and a shoe line.
The movie does go behind closed doors to sales pitch meetings and marketing presentations. It even shows snippets of Spurlock appearing on late night talk shows promoting the movie. Cameo interview appearances are made by Ralph Nader, Donald Trump, J.J. Abrams, Peter Berg and Quentin Tarantino.
Spurlock travels to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where visual pollution led to the passage of a clean city law banning all forms of outdoor advertising.
Spurlock goes off on yet another tangent in relation to public education. He speculates how poorly funded schools facing budget cuts could raise lots of money by selling naming rights and advertising space on buses.
Spurlock serves as the film’s narrator and the central figure followed around by the camera. He distinguishes himself as both a master salesman and showman. He dons a sport jacket covered with NASCAR-type slogans of his brand name promoters. This film illustrates the gullibility expressed in P.T. Barnum’s famous line, “There is a sucker born every minute.”
Spurlock hammers home the point that from birth to death corporations control our lives through advertising.
Although maintaining control of the content and final edit through contractual clauses, Spurlock clearly crosses the line between artistic integrity and commerce with these shameless product plugs. You may be laughing on the outside, but seething inside for being perceived as belonging to a group of consumer idiots seeking contentment and happiness from all kinds of stuff acquired in the manipulative marketplace
This 88-minute satirical spoof doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know. It runs out of steam after 45 minutes and you find yourself looking for the nearest exit. Spurlock is not in the same filmmaking league as Michael Moore, whose popular, well-received documentaries are informative and entertaining.
The film opens at AMC Studio 30, AMC Barrywoods 24, Glenwood Red Bridge and Cinemark Palace at the Plaza.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"