“What if there was a code in your mind that controlled your desires? What if it was planted, branded there by the products you use every day?”

Branded’s Narrator, in the film’s incredibly misleading trailer

OK, Narrator, if we’re going to play this question game, I’ve got one for you: What if there was a movie that wasn’t about that at all, but in fact was about an cow-shaped constellation that strikes some English Russian dude with lightning as a child so he can grow up to battle the plans of a mysterious advertising guru who may or may not be in a different movie to make people want to be fat using his powers of Extreme Marketing? Oh, and there are creatures. Would even you, Narrator, willingly pay to see such a movie? Didn’t think so. Which is why Roadside Attractions created perhaps the most deceptive trailer in the history of that evil marketing their product despises to try to sucker you into seeing Branded. I’ll grant you, paying to see one movie and getting a different one can be annoying, but I’m a veteran moviegoer and know how to roll with those punches. The problem with Branded is that it’s not just bad, not just awful, but truly one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Patched together with narrative duct tape from what may be more than one movie, none of which were shot to completion, the feature directorial debut of the Russian/American team of Jamie Bradshaw and Alexandr Dulerayn commits a major Bad Movie sin: it believes itself to be a Masterpiece. Apparently these real-life mad men (they’re advertising industry vets as well, har har) think they’re making a bold critique of marketing and its effect on contemporary life, but instead they’ve created something akin to sitting in a college dorm listening to a boorish guy lecture you on things you already know while playing with a CGI graphics program he doesn’t quite know how to work. It’s fun to watch name actors like Max Von Sydow, Jeffrey Tambor and especially Leelee Sobieski use various coping techniques to pretend they’re not in the middle of a cinematic atrocity, and after a while it gets to be a game waiting to see what bizarre and ill-advised turn the plot will take next. I honestly can’t imagine why the other three people at the screening I attended walked out well before the movie was over: when cars are piling up like this, I gotta rubberneck.

“This is the dumbest f*$king movie I’ve ever seen in my life!”
-A member of my angry Branded audience, loud enough for everyone to hear as he walked out of the theater.

Read the rest of Lamar’s review: