A Brief Note On The Ferris Bueller Super Bowl Commercial

Gabe Delahaye | January 30, 2012 - 2:45 pm

Last week a video appeared on-line in which Matthew Broderick played an adult Ferris Bueller, at which point Jalopnik broke the story that this was for a Super Bowl commercial for a Honda CR-V. And so Honda decided to just go ahead and leak the full commercial a week before the game. We are not posting it here. If you want to see it, you can see it. It’s all over the place. Can I just say real quick that this ad bums me out so much? The basic premise is that Matthew Broderick calls in sick from ACTING and then goes about having a fun day in his Honda CR-V, all the while talking directly to camera, and re-experiencing those klassic moments like the valet parking guy calling out “Broderick. Broderick.” (There are much more important reasons why this ad stinks and bugs me, but it doesn’t help that the monotone “Bueller” joke has been parodied and done to death so much that actually seeing it done in some kind of official spoof capacity is almost physically painful.) How fun. Let’s all run out and buy cars now. The thing about this ad is that not only is it just completely boring and lazy and unimaginative, which is particularly terrible in advertising because however insidious or malevolent the practice of trying to convince people to purchase things they don’t need in order to fulfill existential gaps in their self-worth, the fact of the matter is that it has least been INTERESTING to see them try and do this over the past 20 years as consumers have gotten more savvy and less easy to please/convince. But of course the ad is getting tons of attention* because people miss the past, and that is the saddest part of all. The past is gone, boys. You’re more than welcome to rewatch the actual movie on BLU RAY, that sounds like fun, but the uninspired use of nostalgia in order to sell a mid-priced sedan with decent mileage and family-friendly safety features makes me feel the way someone who tried to burn everything to the ground must have felt right before they did that.

(I wrote a Tweet that basically said the same thing as this post but in MUCH fewer words, and someone wrote back a joke about this ad being like The Hangover II, which, incidentally, they were both directed by Todd Phillips so go figure.) Some people will complain that this ad is “desecrating” their beloved movie (actual word I saw on the Internet) but I don’t think that’s true. Your movie is fine. Don’t worry about your movie, it’s exactly the same. The problem is just that it works much like the Transformers movies to prove that there is a market for the tired and the lazy and the uninspired and the vacuous. The more we come to rely on nostalgia and empty parody as a replacement for actual imagination (and I know that I am just talking about a car commercial, but this is a car commercial that is dominating blogs and Facebook and the conversation, so it’s more than just a car commercial, and ultimately nothing is just a car commercial, I am pretty sure I learned that in college) the more this pattern will reinforce and engender itself until that’s all we have, parodies of parodies starring the guys from College Humor. And then you get things like this poll from the MSNBC website (THE MSNBC WEBSITE!):

What’s your favorite moment from the ad?

  • The fake sick phone call
  • “Broderick … Broderick”
  • Broderick almost spotted on TV screen
  • Singing on parade float
  • Valet steals car
  • Car switcheroo at spotlight
  • Broderick tells audience to leave after ad appears to be over
  • Other
  • No favorite moment, it just wasn’t that great

OOF. It bums me out! The world we live in sometimes and the values we place on certain things that seem to directly contradict my own values! Then again, if we continue with the analogy, the Transformers movies are very popular and I do believe that people are entitled to like whatever they want, so they like this, so what do I know. Forget it. I take it all back. Great commercial. Enjoy.

*I’m sure someone is going to argue that if I don’t like the fact that this ad is getting so much attention, then why am I giving it more attention. Oh well, you caught me. But I think that’s a boring counter-argument. We talk about things here, that is what we do. Try harder. You can gotcha me better.