Fantastic Four, Burger King's Bitch

Friday, July 15, 2005

In my scathing review of one of the worst movies of the year, I bring up the most offensive case of product placement in a film. Ever.

Yet no one else brought it up. In reviews as critical as mine not one critic has called "Fantastic Four" out as the bitch it is under the submission of the fast food chain known as Burger King.

And now the TV commercials have confirmed it. Just go to and see it for yourself. Shake your head in shame, especially if you're a fan of the comic book; or worse, the movie. As the website loads a large flash presentation pops out at you with an image of The Thing telling you to "have it your way," and a customizable online comic entices children to play along.

For a five-week period the highly popular burger joint will be giving away exclusive toys in their Kids Meals you'll find nowhere else. Not that there's anything wrong with movies and restaurants doing joint promotions together - the problem occurs when it becomes a major distraction in the movie itself.

If you haven't seen the utterly dismal flick, there's a part where Torch, one of the Fantastics whose human name is Johnny, actually lights up a billboard featuring Burger King's flame-broiled Whopper with flames strategically placed in the right spots alluding to how the burgers are cooked. The fire that was started by Torch "broils" the billboard image of a whopper, suggesting that after the movie you should go to Burger King and order a flame broiled Whopper.

So why hasn't anyone else brought this up? Probably because product placement has become the norm in mainstream cinema. We expect to see giant ads for Coke and Toyota and when we do we just assume it's part of the movie.

Moreover, such displays are hard to distinguish from legitimate props, such as the restaurant vendors seen in Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal." But in "Fantastic Four" the film stops in its tracks so audiences can be subliminally seduced by a flaming Whopper. Never have I seen something so shameful in the name of marketing.

I have no patience for sellouts. Box office giants like "Fantastic Four" do not need to distract audiences with subliminal commercials after we've already endured twenty minutes of annoying Fanta commercials while holding on to a $8-10 movie stub that wasn't purchased so we could watch advertisements.

When a highly anticipated movie is scheduled to begin a 8:00 don't expect it to actually start until 8:30. Don't think you can show up late however unless you want to sit in the front row. All this adds up to a disappointing movie going experience that can only be remedied by a truly fantastic film - one not with the word 'fantastic' in the title.