The new Honda Super Bowl ad, featuring Matthew Broderick back in his Ferris Bueller role (for all intents and purposes), is one of the saddest commercials I’ve seen in a long while. Literally. It’s sad. The original Ferris Bueller was about rebellion. It was about youth. It was about blazing your own path, doing things your own way, and being bold. The new Honda CR-V commercial just reminds everyone who was young enough to love Ferris Bueller when it came out that they’re old. It says, “Hey, remember that scene with Ferris in the Art Institute of Chicago? Well, now he’s looking at a Walrus and having an existential crisis…because he’s old. Like you!” I would have rather seen a Honda CR-V commercial with the guy who stole the Ferrari for a joy ride in the original movie, or Charlie Sheen’s “bad boy” character from the police station. Instead, audiences get a brief sense of nostalgia tinged with the foreboding doom of old age, closing in like Principal Rooney.
Put another way: The reason why people wanted Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to be good was because a.) It’s Indiana Jones and the nostalgia will always be there, and b.) Harrison Ford could legitimately still get the job done if he wasn’t given a crappy script influenced by The Emperor, George Lucas. Ford was actually in pretty good shape for the role, and no one doubts that old guys can still carry an action flick.
Exhibit A: Sylvester Stallone.
Late in Stallone’s career he had a big hit with The Expendables. Why? Because he’s old AND kicks ass. Just like the movie. So if men can do it with action movies, there’s really no excuse why the makers of the Honda CR-V commercial couldn’t have captured nostalgia and a rebellious attitude with their Ferris Bueller homage. If the point was to market the vehicle as something that looks cool, but assures the world “I’m domesticated,” Honda succeeded. If the point was to tap into anyone Broderick’s age who thinks they still have a little Bueller in them, it failed.
Note to car companies: In ten years, when you do a spot centered around 90’s nostalgia for Jason Biggs in American Pie…be careful. Be very careful.