Being neither a Denver Broncos nor a Seattle Seahawks fan, I watched this year’s Super Bowl purely in hopes of seeing a great football game. Seeing the Seahawks trounce the Broncos 43-8 did not exactly fulfill my hopes where that was concerned. Really, other than Seahawks fans, I suppose the people who enjoyed the 2014 Super Bowl broadcast the most were the ones who just tune in for the commercials.
Being neither a Denver Broncos nor a Seattle Seahawks fan, I watched this year’s Super Bowl purely in hopes of seeing a great football game. Seeing the Seahawks trounce the Broncos 43-8 did not exactly fulfill my hopes where that was concerned. Really, other than Seahawks fans, I suppose the people who enjoyed the 2014 Super Bowl broadcast the most were the ones who just tune in for the commercials. And while I can’t condone that kind of unquestioning support for some of the worst aspects of our 21st century late-capitalist society, I did sit through the entire telecast, so I can at least provide you with a grudging report detailing which of the evening’s high-profile paid advertisements did the most to break through my cynicism and bring a kernel of amusement to my cold, black heart. Without further ado, here they are.
10. 24: Live Another Day Trailer
Oh look, 24 is back–again. I guess Joel Surnow is running out of money, so we get yet another season of this jingoistic espionage thriller, which will premiere with a 2-hour episode on May 5. I honestly thought this was a video game commercial until I recognized Keifer Sutherland, and I still think the woman he’s dragging with him as he shuffles down the wartorn London street firing a gun looks like a CGI character from a video game cut scene. But maybe I’m just jaded.
9. Johnny Galecki Flirts While Driving A Hyundai
OK, I admit it, I kinda like The Big Bang Theory. Jokes about comic books and obscure sci-fi TV shows will always win me over, even when they show up in the middle of totally hackneyed sitcom cliche plots. Plus, Johnny Galecki was on Roseanne, so he’ll always have cred as far as I’m concerned. But he shouldn’t be trying to flirt while he’s driving, as this commercial proves. I dunno, this one isn’t really that great, but that ELO song (“Evil Woman”) is tight, and giving Richard Lewis a 5-second cameo is always a good and proper thing to do.
8. Doritos Cowboy Kid
My first thought upon seeing this one was that my mom would have smacked the hell out of me for the “I dunno, can you?” crack the older kid makes at the beginning of this commercial, but I doubt spending my childhood getting smacked around really did me any good, so I’m glad that the come-uppance he receives in this commercial merely involves him getting hog-tied by his hound-wrangling little brother. Traumatizing childhood flashbacks aside, everything about this commercial is hilarious and awesome. The image I screen-capped at the top of this article says it all.
7. Dannon Yogurt Full House Reunion
Oh, sorry, my title needs a spoiler alert for this 30 second commercial, assuming you didn’t see it the first time. A visibly aging John Stamos flirts with an attractive woman significantly younger than he is, gets a kiss, then tries for some naughtier action before getting rudely cockblocked by Bob Saget and Dave Coulier, his former Full House co-stars. With only those three guys on hand, I suppose this is not a true Full House reunion, but at least Stamos wasn’t kissing one of the Olsen twins at the beginning, right? Trivia question: which of those three guys is hating their life more right now? [Spoiler alert part 2: It’s Saget. It’s always Saget.]
6. Bear In Convenience Store Wants Chobani Yogurt
Yup, it’s a yogurt double-header. A country store in a set straight out of Northern Exposure gets invaded and destroyed by a grizzly bear, who–plot twist–just wants to buy some Greek yogurt. Aww! This commercial is kinda frontloaded–the bear dips out halfway through and the entire second half is just a voiceover giving me some crunchy-granola-ish reasons why I should buy their product (yawn). But it does feature a sign of things to come, in that the commercial’s soundtrack is Bob Dylan’s “I Want You.” Is there another Super Bowl commercial double header in the offing? Well, let me not get ahead of myself…
5. Jaguar British Villains
Here we have some legends of cinema joining up to proclaim the superiority of British actors at the task of portraying onscreen villains. UK citizens Ben Kingsley (Iron Man‘s The Mandarin), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes‘s Lord Henry Blackwood), and Tom Hiddleston (Thor‘s Loki) find several reasons why Brits both make good villains and good sports cars. I’ll have to take their word for it–I’ve never seen a Jaguar in the flesh (I’ll never be a royal, either). Still, this is 60 seconds of understated menace from some of the best actors in the game, so I’ll accept their thesis: maybe it is Good To Be Bad. BRB, I’m gonna go knock over a bank.
4. Seinfeld Reunion Thingy
This was only sort of a commercial–it was introduced by the CBS crew during the telecast, so it was presented as part of the halftime show. But really, it was put together to get you to visit the site for Jerry Seinfeld’s web series, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, so it’s still, let’s face it, kind of a commercial. And considering it featured some typically Seinfeldian gags–Jerry mumbling important information, George engaging in inappropriate bathroom use, Newman showing up to ruin everything–it was enough of a Seinfeld reunion to count, barely. If you enjoyed it enough to want more, there’s a 7-minute version of the clip at comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com. Personally, I’m holding out for a Kramer appearance.
3. Bruce Willis Honda Hugfest
This one rose this high on the list due to sheer WTF factor. I can’t figure out if it’s supposed to be funny or solemn. Willis’s narrative comes off as pretty straightforward on paper, but the appearance and behavior of his co-star, Portlandia‘s Fred Armisen, takes the Tim And Eric-style random awkwardness to levels even Old Spice commercials haven’t quite attained yet. So yeah, I don’t know what to think. I do know I scoffed when this commercial showed up during the fourth quarter, after the Seahawks had taken a five-touchdown lead. “Great game, right?” Not really, Bruce.
2. Bob Dylan’s Chrysler Ad
“Is there anything more American than America?” Bob Dylan asks at the beginning of this ad. Before I even figured out whose voice I was hearing, I’d already decided this absurd observation was worth an all-caps tweet. Then as I was typing, I realized, “Holy shit, that’s Bob Dylan!” My mind was blown to the extent that the rest of the commercial went straight over my head. Upon repeat viewing, though, I must say I approve. I’ve always been a fan of Detroit Rock City, and this commercial’s subtle anti-outsourcing/pro-American-jobs message is one I can totally get behind. Bob Dylan’s Beat-style throwback cool is a nice reminder of the days when hipsters weren’t yet passe, and if there’s one thing Dylan proves in this commercial, it’s that he’s still unpredictable. This ad is pretty ridiculous, really, and yet I can’t help but dig it. Except for that part at the end when it becomes an endorsement for a specific car. If not for that brief moment, you could almost forget that this is still just another goddamn commercial.
1. Enter The Matrix With Kia
Without a doubt, the non-football highlight of the evening. Laurence Fishburne crashes a valet parking stand and encourages some bourgeois couple to take the red key and exit the automotive Matrix. He delivers his lines in an over-the-top portentous style that makes a deadpan mockery of his legendary turn as Morpheus in the Matrix trilogy, but things don’t get truly epic until he busts out some Pavarotti-style vocal histrionics from the backseat of their brand new (stolen?) car, as parked cars float away into the sky and streetlights explode overhead. I’ve watched this ad three times and cracked up every time. Congratulations, Kia, your ad rules. Which is not to say that I’m gonna buy one of your cars or anything.
What do you think of our choices? Did we leave out any more deserving marketing campaigns? Is this whole thing really just a pathetic orgy of materialism? And hey, what did you think of the game, anyway? Tell us about it in the comments!