4 of 6
This review of “Casket” by ms is the 4th of six issued by the VCK for the six finalists in the 2009-2010 Crash The Superbowl Doritos commercial contest. You may page backwards or
forwards through any of the six sequential
blog posts to read any/all of the reviews.
The Video The Rating
1. “Kids These Days”…………………………………………8.2
3. “The Smackout”……………………………………………..7.5
5. “Snack Attack Samurai” ……………………………….7.0
6. “House Rules” ………………………………………………4.9
CASKET by ms
I beg your indulgence for a minute before I start the review. When I saw this video for the first time several weeks ago, I put it in my ‘Best of – Top 25’. It also made my Top Ten cut. I liked it a lot. It felt eerily familiar. Then, I read that ms hails from, Whittier, Ca. and so too his set location. It clicked. Before switching career gears four years ago, I was finishing up a 17 year career as a wedding photographer. Whittier is only about 20 miles form my current town of Claremont. I must have shot at least 5 or 6 weddings in that same church. Great architecture. The perfect background for this kind of commercial script. No I don’t know the producer even though he is somehow associated with the parish. No conspiracy between myself and this production team exists. It is though another odd piece of evidence proving yet again just how small the world really is.
CASTING/ACTING: All of the actors were appropriate for the roles/script. These guys are your typical ‘dude’ guys. Nice mix of types, within the type too. Some thin, some chubby, some blond, some brunette. They are cast well and all deliver great performances. The extras were well chosen and the ‘fainting, etc. in the back pews’ was great.
SOUND DESIGN: The C.U.’s of the Pew Buddies audio was great. Wether ADR or live action capture, the timbre of the voices really came through. Similar to ‘The Smackout’, the absence of distracting ambience(s) or a music bed(s), really helps these performances shine. You really get drawn in as a viewer. All of the foley was great. Whether captured during the shoot or ADR’d/foley’d later, it all worked. As in ‘The Smackout’, not an overly complex sound design task, but still executed very nicely.
LIGHTING/EDITING/PROPS: I am guessing this was shot during the day and the director married the ambient light coming through/between the columns in the background with the same temperatures on his Kino-Flos. Nice match. And if I am wrong and it was shot during the evening, then even bigger kudos for taking the time to light the wings/columns successfully fooling the viewer. Either way, there is no issue with the light and all of the clips densities/colors were married to each other nicely. Picture of the ‘nearly’ deceased was awesome. There was an issue with the ‘TV’ I will address in the cons but notwithstanding that flaw, the props were all very nice and left very little to pick at.
DIRECTING/DP: It really feels like everyone/everything ‘worked’ well on the set. Everyone (mains/extras) seemed to take direction well which is usually a sign of good direction. I imagine how tough it was to do the interior casket camera work. I am going to guess that the Canon 5D was used for this close quarters action but I could be wrong. Either way, it is a very nice use of support gear (rails, dolly, glider) or whatever was employed. The photography was engaging. Each shot was interesting. None were throwaways. They lead the viewer through the story in economical fashion. No overage, drag, or rush. A :30 story told in the :30 format.
STORY/LOCATION: The location is what immediately captures the viewer. This director/producer was fortunate to have such a location at his disposal. Because he is integral to the operation of the parish, he probably even had concessions that a renting director might not have. Few of us would go into a spec. spot thinking to rent/use a currently operating ‘near cathedral‘ church. This instantly sets apart this submission from the rest of the field in the contest. I would be curious to see the reel from this director and see how he fares with lesser locations…but wait I am starting to sound like I have begun my CON. The location is the aspect that gives this spot it’s superiority, not the story. The story is fine. Definitely sufficient for the SuperBowl brief. But similar to ‘The Smackout’ I am not sure how this will play in March during ‘Desperate Housewives’, (something that should be considered since Doritos usually runs these spots as part of an actual campaign for several months post Superbowl), but for the purpose to which it was written, it should play.
WRITING/STORY: The story is good but not great. I viewed three or four videos in the competition where a persons last wish is to be buried with his favorite snack chips, tucked or poured in the casket along side him. Turns out the person isn’t dead at all and each story has some sort of tumult that is part of it’s main site gag, often resulting in the casket being up-ended. I saw versions of this in the previous two contest years as well. So as far as originality I can’t see where this could have received the highest of marks. In fact, to my recollection, all of the other spots in the finals bracket enjoy singularity of concept except for this one (Oh and the Samurai/Doritos chinese star sub). Go figure.
I don’t see soccer moms loving this spot in droves. I do think a certain ‘dude’ demographic will eat it up, but the USA Today meters will be in the hands of more than just dudes, so I’m not sure how well this spot will do if it prevails in the internet voting. Kind of risky by Doritos if you ask me.
The opera/choir “…Ahhhhhhh…” was almost a deal breaker for me. That he gave the “Ahhh” so readily wreaks of being rehearsed. I thought that the tipping over of the casket was an accident. It wasn’t supposed to happen right? Am I missing something here? Then all of a sudden the casket falls and his buddy is ready with a choreographed song and dance?!? I did dig that this guys friend would come off the pew and go to bat for him. That was wonderful, definitely bro-tastic, but he should have stood there for a second or two, unsure, facing/panning the pews, fretting, C.U. nose flaring, a nice 3 second pregnant pause, and then deliver “It’s a miracle”, throwing his hands up in the air…….and/or……then camera cuts to a C.U. of the mourning wife or girlfriend who is now baring fangs and he repeats the “It’s a miracle” line O.S., but with much less conviction the second time. Cut to black.
Look, I can’t be sure exactly how this should have ended, but the “Ahhhh” doesn’t do it for me and I am amazed it worked so unanimously for the Doritos judges. Maybe I am out of touch with Hollywood, or Texas.
PROPS: The disappearing TV bothers me. I noticed it the first time it happened and it bothers me every time I see it. In fact, the first time I saw the casket about to turn over, I was thinking “Oh no…the chips, the TV..this is gonna be great”. Then it happened and, no TV. I imagine that this Casket had to be purchased. If so, why not modify it so the TV is part of the casket. Any light, cardboard box painted metal grey could have been gaffed to the inside of the Casket. It didn’t even need to roll out with the casket dude if that created a problem.
But if it did tumble out with the dude and his Doritos (like I and most people would have loved to see), I think a couple of sparks using Final Cut Motion and some ‘voltage’ sounding sound effect, would have so added to this sight gag. Yeah, I know, some of you think I am being petty here. And yes, many SB viewers getting half tanked on Rolling Rock won’t even notice, but it is definitely the kind of thing that will keep this spot from ever winning any peer related awards like a CLIO. And as a Director you bet your booty I would have addressed this issue as part of pre-production had it been my job. After all, scoring the cathedral, but failing to visually support it in an equitable manner is like having a great lead actor and a mediocre co-star. I mean, if you’re gonna do it, then do it right. It actually was one of the issues that made me want to see more of his director’s work. I would be curious to see if this is just a single instance where a major detail was ignored or if it is a habit that somehow didn’t come back to bite him this time.
Overall this is a solid commercial. It would embarrass no brand who utilized it nationally. Knowing however that the CTSB spots are supposed to rise above standard national quality, I think this spot was lucky to get in. Yeah, I know it was in my Top Ten picks but it only narrowly made it. Like I said before, were it not for the great location, it is my opinion this story paired with any other backdrop would have failed to be noticed by Doritos and the VCK as well.
VCK Rating – 7.7
Please go to the next blog for review number 5 of 6:
‘Snack Attack Samurai‘ by Cber