Sunday, April 14, 2024

‘Super Size Me’ Director Brands Together His Hilarious New Documentary

Eight years ago, “Super Size Me” director Morgan Spurlock took aim at the fast-food industry, and particularly McDonald’s, for slowly poisoning us with fatty, greasy goodness. Now, he returns to examine a topic just as pervasive: Advertising, both the kind that sells movies internally (through product placement) and externally (through the myriad ads on billboards, TV and computer screens, buses and even schools).

Screening at 6:15 p.m. Monday at Regal South Beach, the film is titled “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” and Spurlock goes whole hog in this latest stunt. The subject is the insidiousness, and possible artistic negation, of corporate branding in movies. To this end, Spurlock interviews experts in the field, from the nation’s top motion-picture branders and ad gurus to anti-corporate leftists such as Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader.

But the novelty behind the self-reflexive doc is that the movie itself was funded entirely by corporate brands, and we watch Spurlock balance his evenhanded deconstruction of the marketing industry with his attempts to exploit it himself. The country’s major companies – Coca-Cola, Ford, Delta and the like – won’t give the time of day to a documentarian with controversial history and niche market appeal, but Spurlock proves himself a savvy salesman nonetheless. He eventually corrals more than a dozen companies to sponsor his cheeky treatise, from POM Wonderful fruit juice to JetBlue to Merrell hiking boots. Spurlock is contractually obligated to place their products in the frame whenever possible, which results in some funny dialectical images, such as Quentin Tarantino waxing philosophically about his clashes with movie branding while a Ban deodorant stick (another of the film’s sponsors) sits conspicuously on the table in front of him.

Spurlock asks many fascinating questions along the way, and the results are often hilarious. The irony with which I’ve always associated with Spurlock – that he is, despite “Super Size Me,” the modern documentary’s equivalent of quick, easy, fast-food consumption – remains true here, so don’t expect an Oscar nomination a year from now. But do expect Spurlock’s snarky exercise to ruffle some Hollywood feathers.

Tickets for the Miami Film Festival are $12 general admission, $11 seniors and $7 students. For a full schedule and more information, visit the festival’s website. Check out this blog in the next few days for review of more MIFF titles.

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