Michael Bay and “The Island” Owe Me Ten Bucks

By Brian Bullock

____The local theater chain in my area proudly proclaims the fact that they don’t show commercials before their films, and I applaud them for this. The first time I encountered this years ago, they were using footage from “Dr. Strangelove” to sell shoes and I was so angry it was all I could do to not yell at the damn screen. Our local newspaper recently ran articles on the front page about this phenomenon (because, y’know, there was nothing else going on in the world at the time), and had quotes from what were apparently human beings who actually enjoyed the freakin’ commercials. That’s great. Lets just designate one screen in the theater to show commercials non-stop. People can go in and get advertised at to their heart’s content. And beneath every seat will be a little device that emits just enough radiation to render those people sterile.

____But what’s this? Hey, guess what all you anesthetized corporate brainwashed monkeys! Auteur Michael Bay has made a movie just for you! It’s called “The Island” and its about clones who are used as replacement body parts for the rich. Now Michael Bay specializes in that elusive film which can be described in three words. Big, loud, and dumb. But sometimes that’s all I’m looking for and by god he’s good at making that kind of movie.

_____So I’m watching it, and less than five minutes in there are clones drinking water out of futuristic Aquafina bottles. Okay a little product placement, big deal. Happens in every movie nowadays. Less than thirty seconds later, there’s a bunch of clones by a pool. And they’re all wearing Speedo swimsuits. I can tell because the camera panned directly by several of the logos. And they were all drinking Aquafina. Later someone is working on an Apple computer. I have less a problem with this because it means Bill Gates isn’t getting any money, but the camera once again lingers prominently on the Apple logo. “Something’s fishy here” I start to think. Couple of scenes later the clones are in a club. The camera is level with the bar and zooming up to it, when suddenly someone slams down one of those Aquafina bottles right in the center of the frame and once again, the camera lingers for a second.

_____Okay movie, that’s your game? Fine, let’s play. I started counting every example of product placement I can find and here’s what I came up with:

1) Aquafina
2) Speedo
3) Apple Computers
4) X-box (He snuck in! Damn you Bill Gates!)
5) Aquafina (yeah i counted it twice. If I drank as much water as these people I’d
__never leave the bathroom.)
6) Budweiser
7) Michelob
8) Jack Daniels
9) Budweiser (see number 5.)
10) Amtrak
11) Terminex
12) Johnny Rockets (will 50’s style restaurants still be popular in the future?)
13) Calvin Klein
14) MSN Network (Again! CURSE YOU GATES!!)
15) Mack Trucks
16) Nokia
17) Ben and Jerry’s
18) Cadillac
19) Michelob Light
20) Popular Mechanics
21) Puma
22) NFL

____And its not like people just casually use the products in the course of the movie. In every case above, the shot is composed to prominently feature the sponsor, usually at the expense of the actors. I know that product placement is used to offset the cost of making a movie but for god’s sake how much money did they need?! For all the advertising this movie had, it should have been free.

____If you must see this movie, if you’ve been suckered in by the charms of Scarlett Johansson like I was, buy a ticket to something else and then go see “The Island”. You won’t feel as dirty afterwards. It will be best if you wait till it’s on cable. Or better still, someone else’s cable. To really make it fun, bring some liquor and drink every time you see a corporate logo. You’ll pass out before the third act (Be sure to shoot Jack Daniels, official whiskey of “The Island”).