Is It Just Me, Or Was Wild Just One Long Product Placement?

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Is It Just Me  Or Was Wild Just One Long Product Placement  Reese Witherspoon in Wild still December 2014 640x360 jpg

To inspire a look of wonder like that, there must be an REI outlet up ahead.

I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I was a little disappointed by WildI’d been hearing for months about how inspirational and awesome and well-acted it was, and it was all those things, to some extent. But it was also one long product placement for REI and Snapple, to the point that it distracted me from any of the positive elements.

Just to give you a little context for this 115-minute commercial, this is the movie when Reese Witherspoon goes hiking, and we’ve been hyping it up for a while now as one of the movies that’s going to win everything at the Oscars. (Although by this point, I honestly hope it doesn’t.) Reese plays Cheryl Strayed, a real-life person whose memoir — Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail — inspired the movie. Cheryl was devastated by the death of her mother (played by Laura Dern) at a very young age, and the movie documents all the ways she pulled her life apart at the seams after that event, and the way she ultimately stitched it together. Which was, spoiler-alert: by spending three months alone hiking the PCT.

The majority of the unraveling has to do with hardcore drug use and promiscuous sex, so this was supposed to be a grittier role for Reese, where she could really shine and be taken seriously. (And yes, she shows her boobs, because YA GOTTA.) And she doesn’t even do a bad job, necessarily, just a little forgettable, apparently, because the main thing I remember from the movie was the clumsy product placement. Like, legit you guys, it was comically ham-fisted. They really beat you over the head with references to Snapple — we learn her favorite flavor is lemonade, and at least twice it’s the only thing she wants when she gets back to civilization — but things are even more blatant in regards to the movie’s other apparent sponsor, REI.

Because you guys, did you know they’re the best company ever? Reese Witherspoon told me so when I was watching Wild. At one point, something happens to her boots (how do you spoil a movie that’s just walking?), so she needs new ones, and they spend about five minutes talking up a policy that REI has where if you’re hiking the PCT and you need new boots, all you have to do is call them and they’ll send a new pair to your next stop on the trail! For free! And you don’t even have to do anything! It gets so shameless at one point that Reese is literally on the phone with one of their representatives and tells them they’re her favorite company from now on. Come on.

Oh and then! When she goes to pick up the package from her next stop, she’s expecting another box as well, but it isn’t there. So the store clerk is like, I’m pretty sure you’ve got all you can ever need…right here. And slides the REI box toward her on the counter. I GET IT. Now can we just get them their money already so we can see the rest of this movie? Jeepers*.

*This post is not sponsored by Jeep, but just wanted you guys to know that I have been in one before and it is a pretty good car that you all should buy.