October 28th, 2009
12:17 PM ET
DirecTV is taking a lot of heat for its latest "breaking the fourth wall" commercial, in which actors seem to step right out of well-known movie roles and talk to viewers about the glories of the satellite TV service. When the campaign began, I loved it, marveling at the way they recreated scenes like Sigourney Weaver in the Power Loader suit from "Aliens." It was fun to look for signs of aging in Charlie Sheen and Naomi Watts in their scenes from "Major League" and "King Kong," respectively.
But for some viewers, it's not quite as much fun when the ads are less recreation and more resurrection. Last year, Craig T. Nelson delivered the pitch as he was melded into a "Poltergeist" clip featuring the late Heather O'Rourke, the "they're heeeere" girl. Now, DirecTV is risking the ick factor with a spot featuring Chris Farley, who died of a drug overdose a dozen years ago – yet there he is, struggling into a too-small jacket in a scene from "Tommy Boy" while David Spade snarks and shills across the room.
DirecTV says "Chris' family and friends" were "on board from the very beginning and throughout the entire process and felt the spot was a great tribute to Chris." Spade, through a publicist, said DirecTV approached him and the Farley family with the concept, and figured "it would be a cool way to remind people just how funny Chris was. It is a clever homage to my friend and a movie that we loved doing."
Clever, or macabre? I was kind of creeped out, but your mileage may vary... and, as always, almost any publicity is good publicity. We're talking about the ad campaign, so it must be a success – right?
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