Super Bowl kickoff is just days away, and while we couldn’t be more psyched to watch the New York Giants dismantle the New England Patriots (because, folks, that’s what will happen, end of story), we’re nearly as pumped to check out the game’s high-profile movie ads.
Every year, corporate America pours millions of dollars into movie-related spots — some starring Hollywood A-listers, others riffing on classic films — in an attempt to convince inebriated football fans to buy cars, beer, junk food, deodorant and whatever else we probably don’t need but which might make our sad, empty lives have more meaning. At least that’s how we think ad agencies approach the biggest sporting event of the year.
In preparation for the commercial excellence coming our way Sunday, we took a look at Super Bowls past — as well as this year’s pigskin classic — to pick the 10 greatest movie-related ads of all time.
10. Honda’s Riff on “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
This one sneaks onto the list neither because it’s a great commercial (it’s not) nor because it’s hilarious to see Matthew Broderick once again telling us that life moves pretty fast (it’s just depressing). No, this 2012 Honda ad makes the cut because there’s never, ever going to be a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” sequel, and if this is a close as we get, hey, we’ll take it.
9. Nissan’s “Top Gun” Pigeons
Imagine being inside an ad agency when some creative exec pitches an ad in which a bunch of flyboy pigeons take flight, to the tune of “Top Gun” hit song “Danger Zone,” and attempt to poop all over a Nissan Maxima, but the car is too damn speedy and the birds — one of them voiced by “Cheers” mailman John Ratzenberger — can’t unload on it. And the Nissan suits say, “Hell yes! Let’s fork over a million dollars and air this baby during the Super Bowl.” The late ’90s were weird. And awesome.
8. Budweiser’s Alcoholic Dog
Would a dog’s most traumatic memory be the time he tried to chase after a Bud truck? Would this be the recollection a dog, in the best tradition of a method actor, turns to on a movie set to cry on cue during a maudlin death scene? Do dogs drink beer? Listen, it’s the Super Bowl. These things don’t have to make sense.
7. Visa’s Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon
Everyone’s favorite movie-related drinking game made a very amusing appearance in the 2002 Super Bowl, as Kevin Bacon attempted to pull off what just might be a bit of credit-card fraud. Now drink!
6. Heineken’s Brad Pitt Beer Run
We suppose there’s a world in which Brad Pitt doesn’t have an army of underlings to send out on a beer run and instead has to stroll, under cover of darkness and as a thousand rabid paparazzi converge on him, to the market to pick up a six-pack. In a far different world, Heineken spent roughly the GDP of a third-world country to hire Pitt, license the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and produce a classic Super Bowl a classic Super Bowl ad in 2005.
5. FedEx’s “Cast Away” Resolution
Who didn’t want to ring Tom Hanks’ neck in “Cast Away” and be like, “Dude, just open that FedEx box, ’cause there’s totally a satellite phone, a GPS locator, a fishing rod and a water purifier in there”? This 2003 Super Bowl ad gave us the next best thing.
4. Noxema’s Cream Ad with Farrah Fawcett and Joe Namath
This ad, starring the movie star and the New York Jets QB, might not make it by today’s network censors. So it’s simply amazing that it aired during the 1973 Bowl and had Namath cooing, ”I’m so excited, I’m going to get creamed!” as Fawcett slid into frame.
3. Pepsi’s Michael J. Fox Apartment: “Apartment 10G” (1987)
In 1987, Michael J. Fox had it all — except some Diet Pepsi to offer his very new, totally bodacious next-door neighbor. So MJF does what anyone in his position would do: He jumps out his window in the rain to fetch her some calorie-free pop. Gentlemanly! Of course, when he returns with soda can in hand, he learns the new gal has an equally gorgeous roommate. Both of them love Diet Pepsi. And Michael J. Fox. City living is the best!
2. Volkswagen’s Bark Side
Eleven dogs. One “Star Wars” theme song. Nothing more needs to be said. In fact, nothing is said the entire time (in the same, savvy style as Budweiser’s 1995 frog spot). Just watch it before it airs during this year’s game. Genius.
1. Volkswagen’s Force
When a little boy clad as Darth Vader held up his hands, attempting to use the Force to start a Passat, he also jumpstarted the hearts of every Super Bowl viewer on the planet. Last year’s classic ad was the perfect synthesis of everything a Big Game spot should aspire to be: cute but not too cute, funny without trying too hard, nostalgic yet utterly fresh. Though we somehow doubt parents raised on “Star Wars” rushed over to the local VW dealership seeking the sense of familial togetherness apparent in the commercial, that’s not really the point (at least outside ad agencies and automobile manufacturers). Honestly, most of the people talking about the ad probably couldn’t even name what kind of car the kid Force-ifies. What’s key is people were talking — and still are talking a year later.
For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.