EW Presents Its Scorecard for the Super Bowl Commercial Blitz

Ken Tucker picks the best and worst of this year’s Superbowl Commercials

For once, the game was more exciting than the ads. But that doesn’t mean I’m not up for a little Monday-morning commercial quarterbacking anyway. And while it pains me to exclude my favorite ad — the great, fantastic, so-cool-looking preview for Spider-Man — because it ran during the supersize Malcolm in the Middle, I’ll abide by the rules. The following pitches qualify for EW’s annual Super Bowl spot-check.

Best Use Of Star Power Kevin Bacon doing a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon to prove his identity for Visa’s check card was wittily cute, as opposed to Danny DeVito as a Lipton Brisk iced- tea-swilling puppet, or James Woods and Jim Belushi shilling for Blockbuster as the voices of a booty-shaking rabbit and guinea pig. They were just creepy-cute.

Best Multiple Personality Presented by Pepsi in rapid succession with a Lesley Gore-ish Britney, a Diana Ross-y Britney, a Gidget-y Britney, a hippie Britney, a Robert Palmer-ed Britney, and a 2002 Britney, I deem her Supremes-era incarnation the grooviest. Miss Spears always displays her greatest urgency and energy when she strives to be a soul diva.

Best Movie Hype Sorry, Austin Powers, Blade, and you Men in Black — the coolest spot boiled down to XXX’s genially over-the-top tag line ”Vin Diesel is…triple-X!”

Best Sept. 11 Acknowledgment Monster.com’s Rudy Giuliani spot was heartfelt, but when Budweiser trotted out its big old Clydesdales, who lumbered across the country to stop and bow their heads before Manhattan, there were damp eyes in my house.

Best Use Of Sandwich Meat Quizno’s Subs (anyone had one of these? hands?) showed a competitor blowing a tranquilizer dart into a wavering consumer’s neck to tilt her into picking their sandwich. Black humor so on-target, I’d contemplate eating one of those carbo-monsters.

Best Social-Agenda Propaganda The Office of National Drug Control Policy’s equation of recreational drugging with supporting terrorism was so discreetly specious, none of the kids at our party (the ads’ intended audience) could make the connection. But the guy dressed as a dying rat who equated the cyanide in cigarettes with that in rat poison, courtesy of the American Legacy Foundation’s thetruth.com antismoking campaign? That was a clear message.

Best Time To Refill Your Drink Anytime during that slew of annoyingly vague commercials for AT&T Wireless’ new website, mlife.com—some of the most tedious ads I’ve ever seen in m’life.