A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this documentary from Super Size Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock unmasks how companies push their brands by way of film and television product placements -- and how media companies work with them to raise money to get their projects made. It’s an enlightening, exhilarating, and often hilarious look at the mechanics of consumerism and advertising that's likely to be a conversation-starter for teens and adults. Expect some swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k") and plenty of footage from commercials.
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What's the story?
In POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame) examines how pervasive product placement truly is by making a movie funded entirely by corporate sponsors. He takes viewers from pitch meeting to branding sessions to strategy conferences in his attempt to sign as many firms as he can to back his project and see it marketed heavily to the public. Along the way, he asks questions about how product placement affects entertainment: Can you still be creative? Can you still make the movie you want to make?
Is it any good?
A fascinating, whimsical whirlwind of a ride, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold nevertheless does serious business. It lifts the curtain off of the mystery that is product placement and partnerships and encourages viewers to question the system. In one scene, Spurlock consults an analyst to see what his "brand personality" is. He's told that he's "mindful" and "playful," a description that fits not just Spurlock the filmmaker, but this movie.
It's discomfiting: Even as we watch everyone involved -- Spurlock, the advertisers, other directors -- discuss the inner workings of Hollywood, we're keenly aware that Spurlock is part of it as well. He is, after all, trying to get his documentary made. So as he drives home his point, he's selling a product, too. Then again, perhaps discomfort is just what we need when we discover that our entertainment is no longer simply that.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about product placement. Were you aware of the practice before this film? If so, did you know how pervasive it was? If not, how does finding out about it affect your views about entertainment?
How does it make you feel to know that companies have been targeting you through the movies and TV shows you watch?
Should product placement be banned, or is it the cost of doing business? How can people become savvier about the practice?
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