Sunday, February 05, 2012

Small Bites: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, In Time

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Advertisement has become such a big part of our everyday life that we have become oblivious to just how often companies are selling us things. In his latest documentary, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, director Morgan Spurlock specifically looks at how advertisers are using movies to sell their products. Spurlock has really mastered the art of making his documentaries both informative and amusing. He offers good insight into the negotiation process that occurs between advertisers and the film industry. While it was eye opening to see many of the conditions companies place on studios when their product is featured in a film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold really reaches its height when Spurlock is interviewing those who specialize in product placement. The problem with the film is that following Spurlock as he attempts to get advertisers on board with his film, is not as interesting as the moments when he is talking to people about advertising in general. Although entertaining overall, it would have been better had it been a straight film about advertising instead of a film about Spurlock attempting to make a film about advertising. Spurlock being front and center worked well for Super Size Me, but a little less Spurlock would have worked better for this film.

In Time
The career of Andrew Niccol can best be summed up as one filled with fascinating concepts, but misguide execution. Of his directorial efforts, which include S1m0ne and The Lord of War, only Gattaca worked well from beginning to end. It was good, but not a film I have ever felt the need to revisit. The frustrating thing about In Time is that it has all the makings of a great science fiction film, but continually gets tripped up by its own logic. The idea of time as currency, especially as an allegory to the modern day class structure is brilliant, but the film never seems to figure out how to keep the story moving forward without breaking all the rules it establishes. There is a point, just past the halfway mark, where Will (Justin Timberlake) and Sylvia (Amanada Seyfried) are beginning to embrace their Robin Hood-esque Bonnie and Clyde lifestyle and their own personal time no longer has any value from a plot standpoint. One would assume if they have stolen so much time they should give themselves enough to achieve, or at least attempt to achieve, their goal. However Niccol’s tries to reintroduce the fact that time is running out in order to create tension which is no longer there. The inclusion of Fortis (Alex Pettyfer), the mobster boss of the Minutemen, seemed rather pointless as he does not really impact the plot. It felt like Niccol needed a villain but was not sure who in fact the real enemy is. If anything, Forist takes away much needed screen time between Will and Timekeeper cop Raymond (Cillian Murphy). Their dynamics, which is emphasizes the battle between blindly maintain the status quo and trying to make change, is actually the most interesting aspect to In Time. Unfortunately, Niccol tries to throw too many unnecessary ingredients, such as Fortis and silly plot turn, into the pot and ultimately ends up destroying what could have been a great watch.


  1. Interesting reviews. Really looking forward to The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Just watched Spurlock's Bin Laden one the other day and though I liked it a lot, I was starting to get a bit tired of Spurlock being front and centre.

  2. It's approaching a year since I've seen the 'Greatest Movie Ever Sold', but I think your review echoes many of the thoughts I left the film with. There's a lot to be done with the material which has tickled Spurlock's fancy, but he only goes halfwway. Looking back at my review, I wrote that nothing new is brought to the table, nothing that should shake audiences, especially if they are even the least bit conscious of how marketing works.

  3. @Pete – Oddly enough Spurlock’s Bin Laden film is the one I like the least of all his works. His scope was far too large, so the final product felt rather misguided.

    @Edgar – I agree that it feels like he only goes halfway. There is so many marketing avenues that that he could have explored, especially in regards to the effects that advertisements in movies has on the consumer. Sadly he gets too consumed with placing his own gimmick of a movie front and center.

  4. Gattaca is one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies of all time. I was hoping Niccol could have another great one on his hands, but In Time was painfully disappointing.

  5. @Max – I still think Niccol will make a truly great Sci-Fi film one day. He just needs to tighten up his scripts a lot more.


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