Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks, Feb. 2, 2014

An In-Depth Analysis of the Ferris Bueller Super Bowl Spot

Ferris Bueller is back -- and he drives a Honda

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Most ads these days, especially Super Bowl ads, are what my old boss would call borrowed interest -- dependant on a pop culture reference for its storyline or main joke . Most people agree that VW's little Darth Vader spot was the best Super Bowl ad from last year. But that wasn't a particularly original spot -- they just dressed up a kid like a movie character and shot him doing stuff.

    That didn't stop people from loving the ad anyway, and so here now is Honda capitalizing on the trend by hiring Matthew Broderick to do a 150-second sequel to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," swapping the Ferrari for a CRV. Does this work? Is this spot any good? Let's answer a few questions:

    Does Broderick re-enact Ferris' brilliant phony sick voice? He does! The "movies bring so much joy" line is a winner. And he does it to get off of work, which is a logical way of updating the whole gag. Also, you should note that Broderick is NOT playing Ferris Bueller in this spot. He's playing himself. I bet there were 75 differing legal reasons for that.

    Did they grab the right to "Oh Yeah" for this spot? Ohhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhh. You couldn't do a Bueller tribute without Yello.

    Is Ben Stein in this ad? Alas, no. Broderick is the only Bueller alum featured here. No Stein, no Alan Ruck, no Mia Sara, and no Jeffrey Jones. Jones is currently a convicted sex offender, so you can understand why he might be unavailable. Still, I wish Stein had been around to deliver the "Broderick? Broderick? Broderick?" line instead of the valet.

    Did John Hughes direct this ad? No. He's passed away, alas. Duties here fell to "Old School" director Todd Phillips, who throws in some deft tributes to the original movie: Ferris' towel head wrap, the opening of the curtains, the boss spotting him in the car next door, the reckless valet, the fourth wall coda at the end, and Broderick having a serious moment with an item in a museum. Phillips remembers the movie as well as you and I do, and those little flourishes make the spot.

    Does Broderick go to a Cubs game? Nope. He's in LA, so he goes to a horse race. The Bears win.

    Does he sing on a parade float? He does! No Beatles or Wayne Newton though. And no sweater vest! Gotta give him the sweater vest.

    What does the SOCHOIC license plate mean? It took me a second, but with the aid of Spencer Hall, I got it: SO CHOICE. Of course. Brilliant.

    Does this ad actually work? The car is all but incidental here, but you expect that out of a Super Bowl ad. There's one awkward selling moment here, with Broderick telling another CRV driver that they have excellent taste in automobiles, which is heavy handed. Regardless, people love that movie, and so they'll probably love this spot.