Bizarre, unsettling, futuristic satire about advertising.
  • Review Date: September 8, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 106 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie is a satire on marketing and advertising, and as such it has plenty to say about the way that people can be manipulated into believing that they "need" certain kinds of products. The movie's good guys try to stand up to these forces, while the bad guys try to find newer and more devious ways to perpetuate them.

Positive role models

The main characters are a bit muddled; while their intentions are mostly good, the means may not be. The male lead is a marketing genius who has discovered how his talents can be used for evil. But during the movie's final third, he tries to overcome these evil forces by, once again, using marketing to manipulate people.


The main character is punched, beaten up, and bashed in the head with a club. A fair amount of blood is shown. A cow is sacrificed; it takes place off screen, but there's lots of blood as a result. Bizarre, frightening creatures are shown flying around the skyline; they eventually begin battling each other, with attacks and some blood. Characters make trailers for horror movies, with images of a girl screaming and getting dunked in a tank of water. In a flashback, a man is burned alive in a kiosk (no specifics shown).


The two main characters fall in love and have sex in a car during a traffic jam. They kiss, but no nudity is shown. There's another brief kissing/foreplay scene later on. The main character takes off his clothes during the cow sacrifice scene; he's shown from behind. Two women strip to their underwear on a hot day while stuck in traffic. A TV ad talks about "impotence."


Language isn't very frequent but includes multiple uses of "f--k" (mainly from one character). "S--t" is also used a few times, in addition to "Christ" and "God" (as exclamations).


The movie is about advertising and consumerism, but it's a satire and isn't actually promoting any real products. There are lots of fake ads and parody names like "Ooogle," "Yapple," "Vipsache," "Soda Soda," and "The Burger." Some of these deliberately look like real brands, however, and occasionally real names like "Coke," "Pepsi," "Adidas," and "Marlboro" are mentioned and/or shown in the context of the satire.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The female lead smokes a cigarette in one scene. Adult characters are shown drinking (either beer or vodka) and getting drunk on at least three separate occasions.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Branded is a bizarre, futuristic satire on marketing and advertising set in Russia. It will definitely get older teens thinking about the effects of marketing and advertising and how people can be made to believe that they "need" certain products. But at the same time, it's strange, humorless, and unpleasant, with some violent events (such as beatings) and lots of blood in certain scenes (including a cow being sacrificed off screen). Strange, unsettling monsters litter the skyline and battle each other during the movie's final third. Characters have sex on more than one occasion, but the only nudity is the male lead's backside in a non-sexual scene. Language includes several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," and characters drink and get drunk in a few scenes. Fake products are used in the satire, but they sometimes resemble real products, and real products are also occasionally mentioned and/or shown.

What's the story?

In the Russia of the future, Misha (Ed Stoppard) is a visionary marketing genius who makes horror movie trailers and other ads. He also spies on clients for his boss, Bob Gibbons (Jeffrey Tambor). Meanwhile, an evil marketing guru (Max von Sydow) comes up with an intricate plan to revitalize the ailing fast food industry by making people believe that fat is beautiful. He uses a makeover reality show to kickstart his plan, and Misha and Abby (Leelee Sobieski) -- Bob's niece -- become the show's unwitting producers. When Misha realizes what's going on, he retreats, performs a strange cleansing ritual, and returns, now able to see the physical "monsters" of people's desires. Can he use his skills for the good of mankind?

Is it any good?


Certainly the topic of marketing and advertising is ripe for satirizing, probably more so now than ever before, and BRANDED gets points for bringing up some great ideas. But the movie is so strange and off-putting that it's not likely to gain much traction. Moreover, satire usually implies at least a little bit of humor, and Branded is mostly humorless -- if it was ever actually trying to be funny, then it fails. If a satire should be pointed, then this movie is more on the dull side.

Part of the problem is that Branded spends far too much time setting itself up, wasting time on details that never go anywhere. The "cleansing ritual" sequence in particular seems to take up an entire reel, when it could have been presented far more succinctly. And then there's the fact that the entire production has a queasy tone -- especially in the presentation of those hideous monsters during the final stretch -- making it hard to get too excited about its ideas. Viewers may never want to eat food again.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what Branded has to say about consumerism, marketing, and advertising. What's the connection between fast food and images of beauty? Does that connection exist in real life?

  • In the movie, marketing gurus manipulate people to the point that they actually commit violence. Do you think it's easy for people to get caught up in a kind of mass hysteria? Can you think of real-life examples when that's happened?

  • Did this movie make you want to eat fast food or buy any kind of products? Or did it make you want to avoid them?

  • What is a satire? Is it supposed to be funny, or can it be serious? What did this movie satirize? Was it effective?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 7, 2012
DVD release date:January 15, 2013
Cast:Ed Stoppard, Jeffrey Tambor, Leelee Sobieski, Max von Sydow
Directors:Aleksandr Dulerayn, Jamie Bradshaw
Studio:Roadside Attractions
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:106 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some sexual content

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written bylooneyman September 28, 2012

Waste of time

This movie is awful, but it is intriguingly so. but is for some strange reason you want to see this movie, know that it is rife with strong language as well as a few mild sex scenes.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 9 and 13 year old Written byorchidflame January 17, 2013

Visually Fun

My teenagers and I, actually found this film to be a bit entertaining. It was visually interesting but, the plot seemed to lag a bit. There were important messages that were attempted. But, some people may not have caught them, due to the very surrealistic scenes. But, if you're really into science fiction and conspiracy theories, this will be good to see.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old May 31, 2014
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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