This Sunday, millions of people will tune in to watch the San Francisco 49ers duke it out with the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Luckily for the millions of people who don’t care about football but love parties where there’s buffalo chicken dip, there are the commercials (and Usher). Yes, it’s time to gather round the TV and see which companies shelled out millions not just for their 30 seconds of airtime but for A-list talent. Were the young Peggy Olsens of the world able to make something funny and/or touching? Let’s see how they did.
Beyoncé dropped new music
In case you missed it, Verizon convinced Beyoncé to do an ad where they challenge her to “break the internet.” Of course, the highlight came after the commercial ended, when she overshadowed the Super Bowl by announcing that Renaissance “act ii” is coming March 29 (and dropped two new songs). Yeehaw!
J.Lo finally had to do a Dunkin’ ad
In other Super Bowl commercials with mind-blowing budgets, Ben Affleck called in Jack Harlow, Tom Brady, Matt Damon, and J.Lo to promote his favorite coffee chain. Our condolences to J.Lo — though at least she got a bedazzled Dunkin’ cup out of it.
Aubrey Plaza has a Baja Blast
I can’t totally imagine a world in which Aubrey Plaza is actually drinking Mountain Dew, but you have to appreciate a commercial in which she gets to say, “Probe me already.” Plus, this ad serves as a Parks and Recreation reunion at the end when Nick Offerman pops up. We’ll talk more about NBC sitcom reunions later (there are a lot of them this year), but this is definitely the funniest.
Did you know Willie Nelson smokes weed?
For some reason, I have not grown tired of Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg cashing in on the fact that they love smoking weed. On anyone else, it’s not a good look, but these two can really pull it off. Congrats to them for getting a bag, and a shout-out to Snoop for bringing his best friend, Martha Stewart, along for the ride.
A Friends reunion
Okay, now we’re in full-fledged reunion territory. Yes, this ad also features Victoria and David Beckham, Jelly Roll, and Usher, but the main attraction is Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer. The conceit is that you have to forget some things to make room for remembering that you can buy stuff on Uber Eats. For example, Aniston forgets that she worked with Schwimmer for a decade — call it “The One Where Rachel Has Amnesia.”
A 30 Rock reunion
Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, and Jack McBrayer have linked up to sell you on Booking.com. Glenn Close is also there, for whatever reason. I’d have preferred to see Grizz and Dot Com, but Glenn will do in a pinch.
A Scrubs reunion (feat. Aquaman)
This barely counts as a reunion, because Zach Braff and Donald Faison are always reuniting. At this point they might be more famous for being IRL best friends than they are for starring on a sitcom together for eight or nine seasons (it depends on how much you acknowledge the last season of Scrubs). In their T-Mobile ad, they brought along Jason Momoa for some kind of Flashdance homage. It doesn’t really make sense, but if you ever wanted to see Momoa have a bunch of water dumped on him, here you go.
A second Flashdance-inspired ad?
What are the odds that not one but two different ads would feature an unexpected character doing their take on the Flashdance water-dumping sequence? First, Jason Momoa for T-Mobile, now a gummy cluster that hasn’t yet been covered with Nerds. I hate to pit two beautiful commercials against each other, but I’m giving this one to Momoa. The sight of the giant piece of gummy candy is kind of scary, and not even the briefest glimpse of Addison Rae at the end could change that.
An homage to The Office
Not a reunion per se, but the ad for John Krasinski’s upcoming film, If, rehashes an old bit from The Office. Do you remember when Jim and Pam convinced Dwight that Jim was Asian? They had their friend (played by Randall Park) play Jim at work. It was pretty funny 12 years ago, and they are banking on you remembering that it happened. Park plays opposite the movie’s star, Ryan Reynolds, who gives a dazzling performance as “Man Who Thinks This Is Working.”
What’s the Super Bowl without Clydesdales?
What are those gorgeous horses up to this year? Well, they’re delivering Budweiser to a town that’s been snowed in. I hope they also brought potable water and some food, but beer is also important during a weather event.
Believe you me, I desperately wish that I didn’t love the ad that features babies playing pickleball and talking about their investment portfolios. Unfortunately, I think these kids are so freaking cute. They got me. I guess I’ll go up my 401(k) contribution.
Sir Patrick Stewart chucks Hey Arnold at a mountain
This ad has everything: Patrick Stewart throwing Hey Arnold like he’s a real football; Drew Barrymore being a skeptic; Creed showing up to play “Higher”; Jeff Probst using a torch as a guitar. The button at the end — which I don’t even want to spoil — got an actual laugh out of me. Rare!
Jenna Ortega’s abuelas become action stars
When some millennial loser takes the last bag of chips, what are two old women to do other than go Ethan Hunt mode? That’s the question asked by this Doritos commercial, in which Jenna Ortega appears for about seven seconds total. That’s all right though, because the older women stole the show anyway.
Coin flips are out
Twisting an Oreo is in? This commercial takes place in a world where every Oreo twists open in a totally clean way every single time. So much so that you can treat it like a coin flip? We see what is supposed to be a pre-reality-TV Kris Jenner on the phone, deciding whether or not to do Keeping Up With the Kardashians. “Let me twist on it,” she says. That doesn’t make any sense to me, but I love their rendition of what 2007-era Kris looked like.
Kate McKinnon has a talking cat
Still riding the wave of Weird Barbie success, Kate McKinnon is now selling mayonnaise. And you know what? It’s charming. Sue me!
Of course the cast of America’s favorite television show was going to pop up in a Super Bowl ad. Suits actors Gina Torres, Rick Hoffman, and Sarah Rafferty are doing a send-up of Judge Judy with Judy herself in this ad for e.l.f. cosmetics. There are a bunch of other people in the spot (congrats on getting the Jury Duty guy in your courtroom spoof), but none of them are the Suits star we all want to see: Gabriel Macht. Just kidding, I was hoping they’d get Meghan Markle. Meghan Trainor will have to do.
Ice Spice dates soda
Who needs a human when you can date various lemon-lime sodas? It’s good enough for Ice Spice in this ad for Starry (which you might know as the soda that replaced Sierra Mist in the Pepsi stable). I think the implication here is that Ice Spice is in some kind of throuple with the lemon and the lime in Starry. Progressive!
Business is booming for the farmers who grow couch potatoes in this Pluto TV ad. I love when the crying farmer says that “you can’t beat that type of onscreen chemistry” about Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. He’s real for that.
This post has been updated.