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Political TV ad review: The Republican 'Basketball,' or, 'My Kids Are Grown and They Won't Move Out!'

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Chances are if you haven’t seen it yet, you soon will: It’s the ad for the new fall series My Kids Are Grown and They Won’t Move Out! Oops, no, I mean, the new political ad that depicts adult children who’ve moved back home with their dying-to-retire mother and they can’t move out because, you know, Obama killed the economy.

It’s an ad co-produced by Larry McCarthy, who brought you the Willie Horton scare ad in 1988 (you love ’80s nostalgia, right?), and Karl Rove:

Featuring waxy animation that has the mom age in a manner destined to send shivers down the spine of anyone who had to sit through The Polar Express, the ad titled simply “Basketball” makes life seem an animatronic hell for a mom who used to like it when her young children played basketball at home. But now the grown kids — beefy, indifferent types who ignore Mama and are seen elbowing their way into the kitchen, doubtless planning to tear the door off the refrigerator and eat Mom’s last cup of Activia — can’t find jobs and have wracked up student loan bills that the parental unit is having to spend retirement savings paying off.

The New York Times reported that the ad, which will be extensively broadcast starting today, is the “centerpiece of a $25 million campaign” designed to convince viewers who voted for President Obama they made a mistake, perhaps because they were hypnotically lulled: as Voice-over Mom says so condescendingly, “He spoke so beautifully.” Playing off Obama’s first campaign mantra about hope and change, the ad builds to a quietly firm climax: “He promised change, but things changed for the worse.”

Too bad Saturday Night Live just ended its season; I can see Abby Elliott as the once-youthful, now-haggard mom gazing sadly at her bumptious adult children, played probably by Bobby Moynihan and Andy Samberg.

Is the ad effective? It is: For all the money that’s been poured into the commercial by the super-PAC-affiliated Crossroads GPS, the spot looks drab and amateurish — which translates on TV terms as earnest and sincere. Furthermore, the voice guiding you through a thicket of accusations about how Obama has bungled the economy isn’t a deep. rumbling, angry male one. It’s female, wistful, a little tired-sounding, as though the accusations were being registered with deep, hesitant, polite regret. That kind of thing can work at a time when people tell one pollster after another that they’re tired of partisan fighting, squabbling, stubborn gridlock in Congress, and politicians trying to put the fear of God into them about how the country is about to come apart at its seams.

“Obama started spending like our credit cards have no limit,” says the increasingly quavery female voice. If you worry, as millions do these days, about your own credit card debt, hey: That’s fear you can believe in.

Twitter: @kentucker

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