Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? is an absurdly addictive docuseries that continues the trend of being stuffed with filler.
We review the Netflix docuseries Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? which will be released on November 17th, 2022.
I remember this story coming out as a kid. The commercial is still stuck in my memory. The one of a kid going to school in a fighter jet looking supercool like the offspring of Maverick in Top Gun. And as someone who, in grade school, thought they won a car by unscrewing a Pepsi cap off a small bottle around that period, I am now questioning everything about the cola/soda/pop giant methods. (My mom called, and they claimed it wasn’t the winner). The docuseries from Netflix, Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? tries to encapsulate a marketing age that promoted exclusivity. The series is part cola wars and part millennial Mad Men while being absurdly addictive, if not two episodes too long.
The story interviews permanent members of the case, now in the history books known as Leonard v. Pepsico, Inc. Pepsi attempted an advertisement blitz making Pepsi the cooler option than its rival, Coca-Cola. All the cool kids were drinking it, primarily white, while not quite being an Abercrombie & Finch ad. Cindy Crawford was at the top among the celebrities drinking the stuff on camera. Per the docuseries, everyone wanted to be cool by holding a can of carbonated sugar water. I don’t remember it that way, but I am a film nerd. So I’m guessing I wasn’t ever part of the cool crowd since I watched my VHS tapes of Lone Star, Hoop Dreams, and the double-decker set of Heat while others were watching Friends.
The PepsiCo contest centers on a 20-year-old community college student trying to buy a Harrier Jet by collecting Pepsi points, bucks, or whatever they called it. The commercial showed kids buying Pepsi “gear” or products. The more Pepsi you buy, the more points you collect. Except, when that kid landed the jet on school property, there was a notation. It basically said it could be purchased for seven million of those suckers. The tagline was, “Drink Pepsi, Get Stuff.” It was a joke but watch the commercial. What do you notice? Yes, no tiny words you can hardly read are known as a disclaimer.
What makes Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? so entertaining is that the interviews with the principal players never take the case too seriously and are well aware of the situation’s absurdity. The fact that John Leonard had the idea and the stamina to keep the plan going is incredible, and the fact he found someone to fund his little project. That man’s name was Todd Hoffman, my new hero, and I hope I somehow end up retiring like this guy in the next few decades. This thrill seeker rides his motorcycle into sunsets and gives the vibe of just not giving any you-know-whats. (While even having a moral compass, which is refreshing). Not to mention, the interview with Leonard’s mother is amusing as she laughs through most of the story. The viewers will slowly enjoy themselves by identifying with her view from the sidelines during the case.
Together they find a loophole, and the interviews from Pepsi overlords, hired guns, and especially the marketing team segment, are as entertaining as the defendants. Which, in this case, was initially Leonard because Pepsi sued him. The young man even turned down a settlement offer for under one million dollars. The actual case takes somewhat of a backseat as we read the judge’s ruling, who, per the documentary, was pro-big business. However, the series is so light it’s incredible they chose and accomplished stretching this out to four episodes and a total of 147-minutes. This has been a complaint of mine for years now. This is an unnecessary trend when this could have been finished by taking an hour off the clock.
Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? hits the sweet spot of junk food documentary absurdity but also tries to tie in themes of David versus Goliath and socioeconomic issues when it comes to massive corporations marketing vulnerable populations. It’s entertaining, without making you feel guilty for watching, but light on seriousness. Either way, I’m sure this is being used as a test balloon for a Punch-Drunk Love-type Netflix comedy adaptation starring Pete Davidson and Jonah Hill as the dreamers.
Hell, throw in Jon Hamm as the cola corporate yuppy trying to squash the little guy, and I’m in.
What did you think of Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? Comment below.