The Dinner: Deluxe cheeseburger and fries at Dick's Drive-in (111 N.E. 45th St.)
The Movie: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold at the Guild 45th (2115 N. 45th St.)
The Screenplate: If at first you don't succeed in making a film that critiques product placement, dust yourself off and try again. This time, seek out these "product placers." Have them fund your film's entire million-dollar budget. Throw Ralph Nader and Donald Trump into the mix. Call it The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
Or you can call it the "Inception of documentaries," as Morgan Spurlock, executive producer and lead commentator of the Oscar-nominated Super Size Me, invites us to do. It's a self-referential critique within a critique within a critique--and don't count on Ellen Page to put it into layman's terms, either. In a way, Spurlock seems more concerned this time around with making a documentary that satisfies his own childish "what-ifs" than with teaching us something new.Super Size Me, unlike Spurlock's latest, bore some pretty big news: It was the first time many learned that Willard Scott, the first Ronald McDonald, was fired because he was "too fat," and that before most children can speak, they can recognize McDonalds (You deserve a break today/Look for the Golden Arches/It's a good time for the great taste of McDonald's/Nobody makes your day like McDonalds can). In The Greatest Movie Ever Sold we learn that--get this--there are people who professionally brand items, everyone is trying to sell you something, and that POM Wonderful (POM Wonderful 100% Pure Pomegranate Juice is health in a bottle. Not only is it packed with some of nature's most powerful antioxidants, but has provided over $34 million in funding to support scientific research) helps achieve desired boners.
This is a movie about Morgan Spurlock--not as much in the Bill Maher/Religulous way ("Let me ask you about your religion, I'll pretend to listen, and then I'll tell you why my ideas are better") as much as in the why-am-I-watching-Spurlock-getting-professionally-branded-right-now way (he's "playful" and "mindful," according to the brand consultant). At one point in the documentary, we even see Spurlock's interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live in which he sports a promotional POM jacket and speaks about his upcoming movie (this movie). Surely this shameless promotion is the very driving idea behind the film, and we laugh along--only to be halted by the realization that there's a $10 ticket for this movie sitting on our laps, and inevitably someone is capitalizing on our consumerism. Probably Spurlock.
This is why I ran as far as I could from Commercial America as soon as the movie ended, and to Dick's Drive-on N.E. 45th St. in Wallingford. Free of flashing red arrows telling me what I should or shouldn't consume, I approached the window in which a willing employee greeted me with a smile. I hesitated. After a third complete scan of the extensive overhead menu, I settled on the Deluxe Burger.
This was the most exotic-tasting burger that had ever graced my mouth. In these fleeting moments of Deluxe-consumption, accompanied by darkness, ignoring a few awkward junior-high couples scattered in the darkness making out by the Drive-Thru, I felt like a counter-cultured individual challenging the status quo. I was alone and in a place where I could make my own grown-up cuisine decisions.
Which is what led me to my decision to snatch a Coca Cola (Life begins here/Twist the cap to refreshment/Open happiness/Live on the Coke side of life/Make it real/Real/Life tastes good/Enjoy), another obscure menu item I was able to construct a "brand personality" for without feeling locked into being someone I wasn't. I got caught up in the moment and decided to step out of my comfort zone once more, ordering fries for an extra $1.40.
I guess you could say Dick's Drive-in was a much-needed escape from the nightmare Spurlock described in The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. I found solace within this abandoned part of Wallingford--not a billboard or advertisement in sight--that it was possible to live unattached from labels.