Super Bowl 2014: Reviewing the Commercials (From the 1st Half) — Plus: Rewatch Them Here!

If you’re going to lay down $4 million for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial, for the love of GoDaddy, make sure it pops.

With this year’s big game underway, TVLine is taking stock of the funny, frantic and warm-and-fuzzy spots that are waving assorted advertisers’ wares in front of a good 100 million people. Which companies opted for cute critters? Who signed splashy celebs to do their shilling? And who’s employing tried-and-true S-E-X to arrest eyeballs?

RELATED | Super Bowl 2014: Renée Fleming Sings the National Anthem — What Did You Think?

Read our quick take on the commercials from the 1st half of Super Bowl XLVIII — refresh for updates! — beneath this handy gizmo for playing back your faves (or ones you missed whilst hitting the loo), then share your own reviews in Comments.

FORD, “Nearly Double” | Is this the omnipresent James Franco’s Super Bowl debut? I have no idea. But in tandem with Rob Riggle, he teases something a commercial has never done before – be followed up with a second one that’s “nearly double” as long. Despite the risk of reviving 2012-13’s Franco Fatigue, it drives home the point about the Fusion’s impressive fuel economy. [Score: SAFETY, fittingly]
BUD LIGHT, “Epic Night Part 1” | When Bud ventures outside of its all-American folksy umbrella advertising, it tends to come up empty. (‘Member last Super Bowl’s douche-targeting Black Crown spots?) This first part in Not-an-Actor Ian’s journey makes me fear the others to come. [FUMBLE]

MASERATI, “Strike” | A semi-mystical moppet (played by Oscar-nominated ingenue Quvenzhané Wallis) muses about underdogs lying low so as to strike when giants are sleeping. Or something. It was anybody’s guess what product was being touted until the final second, and not in an impressive way. Car ads can’t afford to be bogged down by mumbo-jumbo. [FUMBLE]

DORITOS, “Time Machine” | Kid dupes oaf into using his Doritos as “fuel” for a time machine. Oaf then mistakes cranky property owner for aged kid/time-travel success. Barely amusing. [FUMBLE]

CHEVY, “Romance” | As truck commercials go, an odd – and oddly specific – combo, as a rancher drives his “very eligible bachelor” stud bull to meet a gaggle of cows, all while “You Sexy Thing” plays. Cute, if unsettlingly anthropomorphic as the bull licks his lips in anticipation of good lovin’ to come. [FIELD GOAL]

NEED FOR SPEED | Fast cars, bi-ch! Upgraded to SAFETY for the goodness of Aaron Paul.

TURBOTAX, “Love Hurts” | So… if you don’t have a horse in tonight’s Super Bowl race, you should use the time to get your taxes done? No. [FUMBLE]

BUD LIGHT, “Epic Night Part 2” | OK, I was too hasty. Had no idea that Don Cheadle (with the SNL llama?) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (with a bad wig and too-tiny tiny tennis shorts) would show up. Ian’s adventure now rating a SAFETY, if only for the randomness.

BEATS MUSIC | Ellen DeGeneres-as-Goldilocks seeks out the perfect dance tracks, ultimately boogeying with the bears. An effective-enough demo. [SAFETY]

HYUNDAI | The night’s best car ad thus far, leading off with multiple “fun” instances of parents saving their kids from near-calamity. Flash-forward to teenage years, and the Genesis’ auto-braking somethingoranother can cover for Dad now. [FIELD GOAL]

CHEERIOS, “Gracie” | In a follow-up to last year’s “controversial” (yet not) spot featuring on a biracial couple, young Gracie negotiates for a puppy when she learns she’s getting a baby brother. [TOUCHDOWN]

SQUARE SPACE | I’m not 100 percent sure what Square Space is (a web hosting service?), but that damning physical manifestation of “what the Internet has become” — including nagging virus “alerts,” duck-faced selfie-holics and pervasive “Your Funny Words Here” memes — was fantastic. [TOUCHDOWN]

RADIO SHACK | The ’80s called, and they want their store back. If this spot got spoiled pre-Super Bowl, I missed it, but what fun to amass so many icons from “my day” — Cliff Clavin, Kid N Play, Alf, the California Raisins, Hulk Hogan, Mary Lou Retton, Dee Snider — for a pointed poke at Radio Shack’s dusty but now-improved image. [FIELD GOAL]

GODADDY | John Turturro introduces us to Gwen, an actual woman who right here and now, on TV, is quitting her job to start a website for her puppetry biz. Thank goodness GoDaddy had the domain free, coulda been awkward. [SAFETY]

T-MOBILE | Tim Tebow shares a snapshot look at what he’s been up to since leaving the NFL — birthing babies, chasing Sasquatch, using talking whales to solve world peace — to underscore how “contracts can be limiting.” Fair ’nuff. [SAFETY]

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION | Mark Wahlberg inherits the heavy lifting from Shia LaBeouf — though Shia will gladly take credit for any success, probably. No hint of plot (I’m serious!), and IMO the ‘bots look a little cartoony this time, a bit less tactile. [SAFETY]

VOLKSWAGEN, “Wings” | This was a “B-” premise elevated by “A+” execution, as VW engineers sprout wings as vehicles pass the century mar on the odometer. Bonus points for restraint on the rainbow-shooting butt. [TOUCHDOWN]

WONDERFUL PISTACHIOS | The nuts are “wonderful,” Stephen Colbert is “wonderful” and the eagle was “good.” A 15-second spot that barely broke a sweat. [SAFETY] Upgraded to FIELD GOAL once the follow-up, featuring a pistachio-headed Colbert, came on.

CARMAX | Satisfied customer elicits a slow clap from the dealer… and then strangers… a park ranger and bear… filmdom’s Rudy (aka Sean Astin) and even a cherub statue. Minimal product info, but the Rudy nod nets a SAFETY.

COCA-COLA | “America the Beautiful” sung in multiple languages over multi-national vignettes. Not one of the pop king’s more memorable Super Bowl forays. [SAFETY]

SONOS, “Face Off” | Clever, using a color palette to literally illustrate how different forms of music can fill your home. But ultimately forgettable. [SAFETY]

H&M | In a spot touting David Beckham’s “body wear” line, the sculpted soccer star sheds bit by bit of clothing as he tries to get back to a fashion shoot — ultimately arriving au naturel. [SAFETY]

TOYOTA, “Big Game Ad Starring Terry Crews and the Muppets” | Dr. Teeth & Co. commandeer Crews’ Highlander, to get to a gig at a nursing home, where they declare there’s “no room for boring” – capped by a Kermit cameo at the end. Whimsical and winning. [TOUCHDOWN]

Coming up, in a separate post: Grading the second half’s commercials.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Rond says:

    Not seeing a single comercial.. lots of notes about them…..

    • KC says:

      You aren’t missing anything. Commercials and game have been a huge disappointment.

      • Max says:

        Yep. These were certainly over-hyped and way too expensive for what they did. As for the Coke ad, this is still America and we speak “American” (English) and I find the divergence from that rather un-American and unworthy.

        • americathebeautiful says:

          I thought the Coke add was wonderful. Diversity is quintessentially American, and we would not be as great of a country as we are without immigration and the diversity of language and ideas that it brings. I think it is sad that you cannot see this. Plus, unless you are 100% Native American, you also have immigrant roots.

        • Joann says:

          I thought the America the Beautifubad from Coke was just that — beautiful. We tend to forget that we are a nation of immigrants and our first language was not English, unless you immigrated from the UK.

        • LaT says:

          Bilingualism is a thing, Max. Even here in a America. Immigrants who came to this country may have learned to speak English, but they didn’t miraculously forget how to speak their other language. There’s *nothing* un-American about being able to speak more than English as an American citizen. Or did you literally not understand that about the commercial? Everyone in it was American. It’s just that some of them can speak *more than* English. Good luck with that bigotry. I’m sure it’ll take you far in life.

        • S. says:

          Hola and ciao, Max. Your attitude isn’t particularly “American” despite the language you used to write here. We welcome people of all backgrounds and nationalities here, anybody searching for a better life and opportunity. They don’t have to take a language test to pass through customs and immigration. Maybe you’d like to look elsewhere for a place as xenophobic and narrowminded as you are. A Coke ad during the Super Bowl is about as American a tv spectacle as you can get. Now, dosvedanya. Don’t let the poignée de porte hit you on the way out. Google translator told that means doorknob or door handle. In any case, scram.

        • Diz says:

          I agree. Whoever came up with this needs to be handed their walking papers tomorrow.

        • Irish says:

          110% agreed! It was offensive to Americans everywhere!!!

          • Angela says:

            Says someone who puts “Irish” as their username.
            Also, try not to speak for Americans at large, thanks.

  2. kykybcraii says:

    Go to my blog to post your personal opinion on the SUPERBOWL!!!

  3. Linda says:

    Hey, I liked the Doritios one.

  4. fan grrl... says:

    Dude, you hate everything…lighten up.

  5. Ashley says:

    Loved the Ellen one, as well as the Doritos one. Also, the pre-game Captain America 2 trailer. Stoked for that. Can’t wait to find the Ellen one online to find out that song. I basically live under a music rock so I have no idea what it is but it’s awesome. Didn’t Amber Riley dance to that in her final freestyle on DWTS?

  6. Beasts of the Southern Wild goes 1% says:

    Ummm, the semi-mystical moppet in Maserati’s Strike commercial is Quvenzhané Wallis.

  7. Linda says:

    I loved seeing Supernatural’s Charles Malik Whitfield in the Cheerios commercial. I also loved that commercial.

  8. Tran 2.0 says:

    So excited for Transformers 4. Mark Wahlberg better give Shia a run for his (robot) money.

  9. jrzygrl says:

    What was that weird fire commercial for? a Fox show?

  10. Xena Brown says:

    There was a commercial (didn’t catch all of it) had a bluesy sounding singer. A couple driving in a car, chick with short hair seemed go be tearing up. Any clues about what this commercial was about?

  11. K. says:

    I’ve only seen two good commercials so far…ok maybe 3!!!

  12. Andy says:

    Didn’t like the coke commercial with America the beautiful I different languages. Just rubbed me the wrong way for some reason.

  13. lariet50 says:

    Oh wow. Y’all liked the Volkswagen commercial? I thought that was terrible. Still awaiting the Jaguar commercial. Rrow.

  14. Amanda says:

    What about the 5-second 24 teaser??? Jack Bauer is BACK!!

    • Andy says:

      Loved that they didn’t even need to say the name of the show. Just two seconds of the beeping sound was all it took to make me all sorts of happy.

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  16. Lore says:

    The one with doing trucks in america, for americans, didnt like it, it looks racist, and what/ NO LOVE FOR DAVID BECKAM? REALLY? H&M Was great

  17. Keith hix says:

    The coca cola ad singing OUR national anthem in other languages is a disgrace. Every country has one, that is ours, sing it in English!

  18. Amanda says:

    I love the radio shack ads and I am really glad that I can see these ads here without having to watch football.

  19. Hannah says:

    Why there’s a wolf in the bear family? (the Ellen one)

  20. TaMara says:

    MWM commercial ratings page is a TOUCHDOWN. Thanks.

  21. M Ha says:

    Coke ad was terrible. We’re a Nation of one (supposedly) why divide us?
    Over all crop has been m’eh at best. Hyandai commercial I’ll give a 6, Cobert a 2, Bud Light a low 0

  22. DarkDefender says:

    My favorite so far was the masterful negotiation for the puppy in the Cheerios ad.

  23. Paul Buhler says:

    I really liked the Radio Shack spot – but then I’m not sure I left the 80s either…

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  25. Scott says:

    Coke ad was a disgrace to America. Yes, we are a melting pot, my grandparents came from Germany, but I don’t expect everyone to speak to me in German. I drink coke everyday, now it’s Pepsi. Hey coke, you want a foreign language, ADIOS!

  26. MAY says:


  27. Alex says:

    I didn’t watch most of the commercials. Of the few I said, they all sucked. The Cheerios one was especially stupid. Had nothing to do with cereal! Absolutely idiotic and dopey.

  28. Flick says:

    So did Anna Kendrick’s Newcastle commercial air or was that only surfaced on the internet? Cause we don’t get the ads in Australia haha

  29. Darrell says:

    Coke. I give your rendition of America the Beautiful a ZERO. The proud immigrants of America understand assimilation and the importance of English as the common language. First you changed Coke and that did not work too well. I think this commercial will fall flat as a day old Coke too. Cheers to all the new Pepsi drinkers!

    • S. says:

      I doubt Pepsi would be proud to have someone like you as a fan. Personally, I’d like a list of everything you think is appropriate so I can have a better idea what constitutes the appropriate opposite direction to run.

  30. Cindy says:

    Touchdowns for me in the first half were Cheerios and T-Mobile, with Wonderful Pistachios and Radio Shack putting a few points on the board. The rest of these guys need to reconsider how they spend 4 million bucks!

  31. Dawn says:

    The little lady in the Cheerios commercial was NOT negotiating. She was laying down LAW!

  32. mrrdh says:

    As for The coke commercial with America The Beautiful sang in Spanish, do brush up on your history. Personally, I do not like political commercials during Super Bowl; however, our forefathers voted that there be no official language in America. We just won our independence from The English and actually considered German or French as our adopted language should they vote for one to be official. What is a disgrace is that one would call themselves American, not know our Anthem, be able to recite it’s words, name our Vice President, order of succession, etc. THAT’S hypocritical and embarrassing. Many can no longer recite The Pledge of Allegiance. It’s scary and before you cast stones,I might suggest that you examine your own knowledge. Before getting their citizenship, those that have immigrated and can speak more than just English have to be able to know more than most of our kids, teens, and even adults know in order to pass their test for citizenship.

    With that said, my fav commercials : The Audi, The Bud Commercials with the vet returning home and the yellow lab/Clydesdales; the Doritos with the Mastiff; Toyota Highlander; the Doberman/small dog ugly hybrid at the dog show, attacking everything (can’t remember which ad it represented); the Cancer survivor tribute; and that’s about all I can remember at this moment.

  33. Jake says:

    Loved the need for speed with the great Aaron Paul. I also liked the Pepsi commercial before the Bruno Mars halftime, where the bridge were guitar strings– that was most impressive

  34. Shinman says:

    Really dislike Coke’s first half commercial film.

  35. lionness says:

    Did Peyton Manning got paid to throw the game today ? if so that is veyyyyy sad :(

  36. ncmacasl says:

    Radio Shack “80’s called” deserves a TOUCHDOWN – That was hilarious!!

  37. Andy says:

    This is the first year I’ve decided to get involved in this event… Maserati ad gave me goosebumps, everything else bored the crap out of me (even the game).

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