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August 19, 2009

Art & Copy

Artcopyfullposter "Brutal simplicity" is a term developed by one of America's most successful advertising masterminds to describe the goal of great ad campaigns like Nike's "Just Do It," or the milk industry's perfect question "Got Milk?" Director Doug Pray ("Surfwise") takes a sunny-day approach to a brief historical telling of our modern advertising landscape that arose from an editorial union of graphic designers and copy writers at the firm of Doyle, Dane and Bernbach in the '50s. Archival clips of famous television commercial campaigns like the "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" Alka-Seltzer ad still packs a belly laugh, while the sentimentally manipulative commercial to re-elect Ronald Reagan is infuriating for its heavy-handed effectiveness. The trouble with Pray's documentary is that it comes off as kind of advertising industry recruitment film. Little pop-up statistic blurbs do little to temper the film away from its glorification of what it views as the "good advertising" that makes up "2%" of the thousands of ads that Americans are exposed to daily. Professedly intended to reflect an Errol Morris "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control" type of documentary, Pray misses the mark by leaving his own editorial voice out to dry. "Dry doc." How's that for brutal simplicity?
(Seventh Art Releasing) Not Rated. 90 mins. (C) (Two Stars)

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