This year's Super Bowl commercials largely took a break from politics and offered up silly humor instead. Celebrity cameos ranging from rapper Cardi B to actor Chris Hemsworth brought out the best in the spots. We saw a few of them coming - Amazon and Doritos, for instance, released their ads online earlier this week - but others, such as David Harbour's many Tide ads, took us by surprise.
Here are the five of the funniest, most memorable commercials of the night.
There have been a number of meta Super Bowl commercials over the years, poking fun of the most common tropes (talking babies, cute animals, sexy women) that we often see during the game's ads. But none have done it as well as Tide, whose series of ads throughout this year's matchup managed to be surprising and memorable, and made many people forget that people were poisoning themselves with the " Tide pod challenge ."
Tide's commercials managed to look simultaneously like a bro-ed out beer ad, an all-American truck ad, a low-budget insurance ad and even an Amazon Alexa ad. What makes them a Tide ad? The clean clothing that everyone wears, according to star David Harbour of "Stranger Things."
"So, does this make every Super Bowl ad a Tide ad?" he asks. And by halfway through the game, he had us believing it.
With every shot of a car driving along a mountainside road, or a cowboy in the sunset, we kept thinking: Will this turn out to be another Tide ad? For a half-second, we cheered the return of Old Spice - until we realized it was a Tide ad. A third-quarter spot with a Clydesdale in a field turned out to be a Tide ad. A geriatric tennis player who we thought would be shilling arthritis medication was in a Tide ad (those bright tennis whites should have been a giveaway). That weirdly sexual uncanny valley Mr. Clean commercial - one of the worst ads of last year's game ? A Tide ad. Even the voice-overs that brought people back into the game after breaks kept the joke going. "Brought to you by Tide. And Tide. And Tide. And Tide."
Doritos Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice:
Morgan Freeman has the voice of God and . . . Missy Elliott? This magnificent rap battle pits Freeman lip-syncing "Get Ur Freak On" against Peter Dinklage spitting both literal and figurative fire with Busta Rhymes' whirlwind verse from Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now." Elliott, essentially dressed as the White Witch from "Narnia," cheers an icy, Mountain Dew-fueled Freeman on. Dinklage, powered by the heat of Doritos Blaze, has a portrait of Busta Rhymes on his side. We all win after this battle.
Amazon's Alexa has lost her voice - maybe she caught that killer flu going around? So several celebrities have stepped in to fill in for her: Rebel Wilson, who helps an Echo customer hoping to "set the mood" with a monologue about traipsing through the Australian bush; Anthony Hopkins, in his signature creepy voice, tells a woman trying to make a call, "I'm afraid Brandon is a little tied up," while gingerly feeding his pet peacock; Gordon Ramsay berates a man for asking Alexa how to make a grilled cheese. "Its name IS the recipe!" he says, before a bunch of bleeped-out comments.
But best of all is Cardi B, who clearly takes her responsibility as the voice of Alexa verrry seriously: "How far is Mars? How am I supposed to know? I've never been there," she says. When another man asks to play country music, she plays "Bodak Yellow." It's perfect. And we're not just saying that because Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America and our boss, makes a big cameo. (Disclosure: Bezos owns The Washington Post, so if he's friends with Cardi B now, maybe he can get her to perform in the newsroom? Are you reading this, Jeff? Please?)
Just as each Tide commercial began by tricking us into believing it was something else, Tourism Australia's Dundee spot got viewers excited about a "Crocodile Dundee" sequel hitting theaters this summer. Danny McBride, playing the legendary character's son, teams up with Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth to embark on an adventure across the beautiful country. "It's 37,000 miles of pristine, beautiful beach, mate," Hemsworth tells McBride. Wait, this seems off.
As McBride finds out at the end of the ad, it turns out this was all just a charade to promote tourism in the beautiful country of Australia. Quite a bit of excitement led up to this big reveal - we're almost upset this isn't a real movie.
"The Simpsons" has a knack for predicting the future, but even the 2005 post-Super Bowl episode of "The Simpsons," in which Homer teaches athletes how to celebrate, couldn't have seen this coming. New York Giants teammates Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. recreated the most memorable scene from "Dirty Dancing" after a touchdown, and we sat on the edge of our seats from the moment "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" started playing. Twitter tells us that jaws collectively dropped as Manning lifted Beckham into the air, outranking even Ryan Gosling's recreation of the iconic move in "Crazy, Stupid, Love." Well done, boys.
Column by Maura Judkis. Judkis covers culture, food and the arts.