updated 02/03/2014 AT 12:00 AM ET
•originally published 02/03/2014 AT 6:45 AM ET
The commercials that aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl to a large degree were already pre-broadcast. The big campaigns not only streamed online, but also preceded themselves with “teaser” versions.
As a result, their official arrivals tended to feel like a smallish baby dropped by a drooping stork. Then they were instantly viewed, discussed, graded up or down and made to run the gauntlet of social media.
In the future, everyone will be Carrie Underwood in The Sound of Music Live! for 15 minutes. It won’t be pretty.
This year’s Super Bowl ads didn t send out any real ripples – nothing like 2013’s oddly sensational Go Daddy spot with Bar Refaeli making out with a gratefully passionate nerd. In general, they settled for cute, if not always as cute as they were supposed to be. A Volkswagen ad that imagined German engineers getting wings ended with a proctological gag that stayed within good taste but never escaped the fact that it was a proctological gag.
Here are the ones I liked best.
Hyundai Genesis: ‘Dad s Sixth Sense’
Applause to Hyundai’s brilliant use of CGI to create a sense of “found” footage of fathers rescuing their kids from danger.
Budweiser: ‘Puppy Love’
An adorable puppy bonds with a noble horse. The spot pushes this a little far and ends with an image that suggests Planet of the Horses. (There’s a thin line between a sentimental horse and a defiant one.) But the puppy really is adorable.
Just the right amount of charm. Note how the sweet little girl and her father use the Cheerios on the dining table almost as if the Cheerios were bargaining chips. The quiet emotional cunning of ad writers cannot be underestimated.
In this ad in support of the American Cancer Society’s World Cancer Day, a Chevy truck goes by with a couple of people who could be driving through an Alice Munro story. Superb use of music: Ane Brun’s “Don t Leave.”
Chrysler: ‘America s Import’
“Is there anything more American than America?” That’s a silly question, but Bob Dylan is doing the asking, so it takes on his oracular inscrutability and leaves you not sure whether you can tell which way the wind blows, or how you feel, or anything.
Coca-Cola: ‘It’s Beautiful’
One of those embracing, patriotic ads you expect from the Super Bowl. To answer Bob Dylan, this is more American than America.
Honda: ‘Hug Someone’
Bruce Willis appears solo until about halfway through, when the camera pulls back and Fred Armisen creeps into the frame like a koala hugging a eucalyptus.
Toyota: ‘Terry Crews & Muppets’
Enter Terry Crews and a crew of Muppets, including chickens – Cluckets, maybe? Someday, the Muppets will finally exhaust their happy appeal. That will be the same day there are no cookies left in the world. It will be sad.