The running joke implicit in Morgan Spurlock's "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," a documentary about product placement financed entirely by product placement, is that while Spurlock fancies himself a kind of anti-product, corporate America is nevertheless so greedy that it will cozy up even to the likes of him. It's a twist on Groucho Marx's rule about not joining any club that would have him as a member: Spurlock convinces several clubs to admit him, then holds them up to ridicule.
That makes this a somewhat amusing and very self-satisfied documentary, consisting mainly of Spurlock pitching himself to such brands as Ban, Jet Blue and Sheetz gas stations in an effort to raise $1.5 million. His other goal, as he smilingly tells the suits in the conference rooms, is to expose the inner workings of advertising.
The point is to show how advertising dominates our lives -- not exactly a revelation. Spurlock's logo-covered suit, which he dons for a talk-show interview, would be funnier if all America didn't already dress that way. His most eye-opening discovery is the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, which has banned outdoor advertising; its blank-sided buildings and billboardless streets feel almost eerily tranquil.
The smartest people in this documentary are not Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky or the other talking heads but the folks at POM Wonderful, who reportedly paid $1 million to get their product's name in the title. Not surprisingly, Spurlock (best known for his 2004 documentary "Super Size Me") never mentions that the FTC called the company's health-boosting claims "deceptive advertising." No matter: This review alone features two prominent mentions of POM Wonderful. Make that three.