The premise: Since the advent of the Internet and fast-forwarding through television commercials, Hollywood has ramped up product placement in film and used co-promotion with other industries to create major blockbusters and to sell products. Spurlock's goal is to create a movie about product placement and co-promotion by funding it entirely through product placement and co-promotion. Genius? Maybe.
Is it right? Wrong? Moral? Immoral?
Mixing man-on-the-street-style vox pops and interviews with industry experts, movie producers, marketing specialists, lawyers, and consumer advocates (including Ralph Nader!), Spurlock takes viewers from Madison Avenue in New York City to Hollywood to find out how marketing affects us, the consumers.
Rotten Tomatoes critics give this film a solid 71%, while viewers have scored it a bit higher at 82%. Nightlife found the film refreshingly honest (like a delicious bottle of 100% POM Wonderful pomegranate juice). Movie-goers might be concerned that "sponsors" of the film exert undue influence over Spurlock's desire to be independent of his financiers, which tied their support to countless hundreds of caveats in hundreds of pages of contracts.
Who exactly financed the film? Well, POM Wonderful, of course. Additionally, Amy's Kitchen, the entire country of Aruba, Ban deodorant, Hyatt Hotels, JetBlue, Merrell, Mini, MovieTickets.com, Sheetz, and several others. All told, Spurlock reportedly raised $1.5 million from sponsors to produce the film. It's main sponsor, POM Wonderful, kicked in a sweet $1 million to serve as the film's title sponsor.
Spurlock's transparency is what gives the movie its edge. Nightlife left the theater impressed with the lengths Spurlock went to in revealing every step in the process. Unlike some popular documentary filmmakers (ahem, Michael Moore), Nightlife didn't feel Spurlock attempted to confirm any particular bias with heavily weighted interviews or one-sided evidence.
It's a must-see for anyone who feels inundated by advertisers or are curious at how the mind processes advertising.
And two of the best things about the film: (1) OK Go wrote the movie's theme song ("The Greatest Song I Ever Heard"), and (2) the city of Altoona, Pennsylvania changed its name to POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Pennsylvania beginning yesterday for a full 60 days.
*Nightlife is legally obligated to inform you that Morgan Spurlock did not actually sponsor this blog post.