Outside of their work writing the thriller Dark Web, the Coen Brothers don’t have any new movie projects coming up. This is unusual for the normally-prolific pair, but in the meantime, the Academy-Award-winning filmmakers are keeping busy by taking on non-big-screen projects. This includes the upcoming TV miniseries The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. That said, the Coens aren’t above booking a little advertising work on the side. (You gotta pay the rent, after all.)
Of course one wouldn’t hire filmmakers of the Coen’s stature for just any old project. Fortunately, the Super Bowl is big enough to warrant talent that expensive, and only a company like Mercedes-Benz has deep enough pockets to make it happen.
In the Coens’ new Super Bowl spot, shared by Mercedes-Benz USA, the filmmakers return to the crusty and comical redneck desert of their beloved classic Raising Arizona. The ad starts in a biker bar filled with incredibly intimidating Leonard Smalls-types, all itching for a fight. A guy puts Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” on the jukebox. (What else do you listen to at a biker bar?) Suddenly, someone bursts through the door saying his bike has been blocked in. The biker bar denizens, ready to bust some skulls, rush outside to stumble upon Peter Fonda of Easy Rider fame. Fonda isn’t riding a bike this time, he’s driving a Benz.
Easy Rider came out in 1969 and became an iconic anti-establishment movie. Now, Peter Fonda is selling Mercedes-Benzes in a Super Bowl ad while the most famous song from the Easy Rider soundtrack plays. Above all, the spot reminds us that 1969 was a long time ago.
For a commercial directed by the Coen Brothers, the spot is pretty straight-forward and unspectacular. You probably wouldn’t even realize the Coens were involved if it didn’t say so on the Mercedes-Benz YouTube page. Outside of the sort-of-homage to Raising Arizona, there’s barely a hint of anything that feels particularly Coen Brothers-esque.
In this instance, the Coens are operating as professional filmmakers lending their talents and name to the selling of a product. They do their job effectively and without getting in the way of the ad’s message, but the competing Wix.com spot starring Jason Statham and Gal Gadot arguably has more entertainment value.
Super Bowl LI and its many ads will air on Fox February 5th, 2017.
Source: Mercedes-Benz USA