WTF Commercials, Part 1

I realized that I needed to add a new category for commercials that seem a little weird to me, because there are a lot of them. They’re not technically movies, but someone had to write and direct and act in them, and I see them all the time.

1. Guilt Cow

The Chick-fil-a advertising format has been the same for as long as I can remember. There are intelligent cows that protest the eating of beef, suggesting we instead ‘eat mor chikin’. They can’t spell, but they’re cute enough, and I always get a hankering for those nuggets when I see a billboard with the cows on them.

I was thinking about posting a different video, where a woman is eating a burger while a cow looks at her accusingly. She turns to see a sign for a missing cow, and with horror, she realizes she is eating the cow’s friend. That’s kind of sick, but if someone made my friend into a burger, I’d give them a dirty look, at the very least. But this ad shows a cow on a campaign to haunt the everliving shit out of this woman until she stops eating burgers. She can’t go through a drive-through or on vacation or hide in a parking garage without this cow harassing her with its misspelled ‘busted’ sign. If I were her, I’d turn this thing into a burger or ten.

What’s really creepy is that the cow is not asking the woman to stop eating the meat of other creatures. It just wants her to eat chicken. It couldn’t care less if she becomes a vegetarian–indeed, it is banking on her NOT doing that, because it wants her to go to Chick-fil-a.

Am I overthinking this ad? Absolutely. Is it still creepy? Absolutely. (I could go for some nuggets now, though.)

2. Literally to Die For

I honestly found this commercial really funny, but it’s also so disturbing. It’s 15 seconds long, so watch it and tell me you didn’t laugh. And also that you weren’t a little freaked out that a woman accidentally murdered someone, then went ahead and used the ‘to die for’ line anyway instead of alerting an ambulance. (Wah, wah, it’s a commercial, it’s not real life, wah, wah. I know.) That burger looks really good, and I laughed at the macabre pun, but generally I don’t want to associate my lunch hour with brutal stabbing. Besides, I’m already nervous about ordering this, because if I do, a judgmental cow will follow me around until I give up eating burgers forever.

The woman in the new Red Robin campaign is adorably naive. In another ad, she mentions that royalty members can get a free burger the month of their birthday, which is great to know, because everybody wants free stuff. Then she adds, with what appears to be genuine glee, “Even if you don’t know what month it is, you have a one-in-twelve chance of getting a free burger!” I cannot imagine any situation outside of head injury or being stranded on a desert island in which you would not know what month it was, but I’m no fun, and she seems so happy about that fact that it makes me happy, too.  You know what? I hope it’s your free burger month, Red Robin spokeswoman. Just try not to kill anyone as you celebrate.

3. Muno on a Skateboard

I have nothing negative to say about this ad. It’s probably one of the most bizarre ads to appear in modern America. It’s a Yo Gabba Gabba character skateboarding and advertising Vans with his own image on them. I love it.

So now it’s your turn. What are some weird ads you’ve seen on TV lately?

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A Drink and a Smoke with Jim Jarmusch

One of my favorite things about Jim Jarmusch’s movies is that pretty much nothing happens, and yet it’s always incredibly enjoyable. My first foray into Jarmuschland was Broken Flowers, where Bill Murray goes on a journey and doesn’t find what he’s looking for and is pretty much left with more questions than answers by the end. Then I watched Dead Man, where Johnny Depp is on the run from the law for killing a man in self-defense, transforms into a complete badass and is guided by a Native American who is actually played by a Native American. There’s a little more resolution here, but it’s still more about the conversations and the thought processes rather than completing a task. Coffee and Cigarettes is the epitome of this style, where the movie isn’t about anything specific, but instead is a series of 5-10 minute vignettes where people talk over coffee and cigarettes.

There are particular themes that appear over and over, like Tesla (the White Stripes discuss Tesla, and the two men in the last vignette repeat a line about the Earth being a conductor of acoustical resonance), twins (the Lee siblings in the vignette “Twins”, and though the White Stripes are not related in reality, they have often presented themselves as siblings close in age, and it is easy to imagine them as twins in this film), cousins (Cate Blanchett playing herself and her fictional cousin, Alfred Molina telling Steve Coogan they are cousins, the appearance of the Wu-Tang members GZA and RZA, who are cousins) and the dangers of smoking (GZA and RZA tell Bill Murray his cough is from his smoking, a vignette is called “Those Things’ll Kill Ya).

There’s also the common thread of a hidden knowledge, skill or connection that one speaker has, but the other person in the conversation doesn’t realize, making them look foolish. Meg White seems uninterested in Jack’s Tesla coil at first, but turns out to know a lot about electrical wiring when it breaks. Steve Coogan doesn’t want to hang out with Alfred Molina or give him his phone number until it turns out that Molina has connections to Spike Jonze. Once Coogan finds out, he tries to make amends, but Molina is offended by Coogan’s obvious change of heart and refuses. Steve Buscemi, as the waiter who brings coffee to the Lees, speaks highly of Elvis, but is cut down when the Lees dismiss Elvis and tell him about the music he stole from black musicians (leading Buscemi to insist it was Elvis’s evil twin).

My personal favorite vignettes are “Twins”, “Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil” and “Delirium”, but they’re all interesting in their own way. So what if the movie isn’t ABOUT anything? It’s still funny, dark and well-made. You go, Jim Jarmusch.

Aliens??

Do aliens exist? According to all the people who claim their eggs and sperm have been harvested by star beings, yes. I don’t normally consider people who claim to be the parent of hybrid space children to be the pinnacle of trustworthiness, but there are some interesting, even compelling moments in The Hidden Hand: Alien Contact & the Government Cover-Up, my most recent watch in my 100 movies challenge.

There are former military employees who claim that they’ve had to hide evidence of UFOs, or have been forbidden to talk about certain projects by their superiors. The fact that sightings of UFOs and alien beings have been around for thousands of years is hard to ignore. Are there really people who have been abducted and harvested? I feel like that’s less likely. But I’ve never been abducted by aliens and had implants forced up my nose, or if I have, I have thankfully managed to forget about it.

What gets me is the sureness of some of these people about what aliens are like. It’s one thing when the experts say something like “In the last ten years, there have been over 10,000 reports of UFOs” (a statistic I completely made up, which might qualify me to speak on the Alien Panel). It’s another thing to say “There are psychic friendly ones and unfriendly psychic ones” or “They have no genitals” or “Their ships are designed specifically for capturing humans”. You might need to check your facts there, buddy. I’m pretty sure your acid trip doesn’t count as research.

It’s an interesting watch, at any rate, and it does make you think about some aspects of aliens/UFOs. If you want to get tricked into believing aliens are coming for our organs, maybe just watch The Fourth Kind.

The Good, The Bad and The Molly

Spoilers ahead, btw.

Things I enjoyed about Lovely Molly:

  • Much of it was shot in my hometown, and the mall where Molly works in the film is the mall I spent much of my young adulthood in. You can even see the sign for the Motel 6 by the highway outside of the mall, a motel that is worthy of a horror film of its own on looks alone.
  • The actress who plays Molly, Gretchen Lodge, can change emotional states at the drop of a hat, and it’s really uncanny. Full-on, hysterical crying screeches to a halt and becomes evil laughter or complete blankness instantly.
  • It’s an interesting concept for a horror movie, and avoids the overly-explainedness that a lot of possession/demon movies like to use (I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity franchise). No elaborate coven backstory, no deal with the devil, just Molly flipping out.

Things I did not enjoy about Lovely Molly:

  • On the flip side, there’s hardly ANY explanation of ANYthing. Why did Hannah kill their dad? What was the backstory on Molly’s drug problem? What happened to their mom? I don’t need an entire tome written on Molly’s background, but a LITTLE reveal would have been nice.
  • The switching between found-footage and traditional camera work was irritating. Pick one or the other.

Things I found entirely confusing about Lovely Molly:

  • I had no idea if Hannah was trying to protect Molly, or if she was trying to deliver her into the hands of the evil forces in the house. Are they both pawns of the devil? If so, why did she kill their (apparently demonic?) father? Who’s evil in this movie, and who’s just being used?
  • Why was Molly stashing a decomposing deer corpse in the house? Would it be so hard to explain what the deer corpse was doing in the house?
  • Is the monster thing at the end their dad? Was their dad also the one that was sexually assaulting her? Did he get reborn as a monster after Hannah killed him?
  • I understand, to some extent once I reached the end, why Molly kept filming the neighbor. If she suspected (correctly) that Tim was cheating on her with the neighbor, she wanted to get video evidence of it happening. I don’t understand why she kept filming the daughter and then killed her. Was it revenge on the neighbor for seducing her husband away? If so, doesn’t that seem like a personal issue for the devil to handle (if Molly is being possessed by the devil at that point, which I don’t even know)? “Hey, while I’m using your body for my own evil purposes, I can stick it to the lady who stole your husband. We both win!”

I’m sure I’m overthinking this movie to some extent, and it was enjoyable enough to watch (and neat to see some familiar locations). But really, guys, I need answers.