Jamie Bradshaw, Alexander Doulerain
Max von Sydow
In the not-too-distance future, advertising is everywhere, avoidable only by escaping to a farm to raise cows.
Elsewhere, marketing specialist Joseph Pascal (Max von Sydow) comes up with Extreme Cosmetics, a reality TV series that will allow an overweight woman to get an operation to remove her fat and make her what the media considers beautiful. Turns out, the show’s surgery is intentionally botched, so that viewers will backlash and see fat as the new fabulous. This all turns out to be a plot to ensure a fast food chain called The Burger rules the world. (The old woman’s prediction, of course, will be tested from this point on out.)
Branded is a science-fiction movie about marketing, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. Co-writers/directors/producers Jamie Bradshaw and Alexander Doulerain clearly have a point they want to make: that advertising can be used for many evils. Fair enough. But their over-the-top approach and message make it impossible to take them or their debut seriously.
Branded is a movie that doesn’t even consider subtlety. From its robotic narration to the freshman-level dialogue (“We have been trained to love shit.”) to the trippy hallucinations (that pit giant insects against corporate mascots) Branded is a heavy-handed mess. The studio knew well not to advertise it.