July 29th, 2011
11:22 AM ET
The Internet is undeniably making the world smaller.
And while this is a great thing for friends trying to stay in touch years after moving away from each other, there’s a certain sect of people who must suffer while the rest of us thrive.
I’m talking, of course, about American celebrities who years ago starred in bizarre, unintentionally hilarious commercials in Japan (why Japan is the main purveyor of this advertising insanity, I have no idea), only to have the Internet unearth them for the whole planet to see.
Back in the mid-'80s or mid-'90s, the stars in question probably thought (while deviously twirling a thin mustache), “By golly, I can get my paws on a nice lump sum by shilling some Japanese libation over yonder, and people stateside will be none the wiser, see!”
But that easy money scheme was blown up thanks to the Internet (emphasis on the “thanks”). Now, those epilepsy-inducing commercials with our stars gleefully hamming it up have come to our shores, and we’re the ones reaping the rewards.
So when word spread recently that Tiger Woods had done a Japanese commercial, giddiness coursed through the veins of pop-culture watchers; we thought we'd see a lighter side of the number one 21 golfer. Unfortunately, it was a staid affair. It seems that even on the other side of the globe, Woods wouldn't unleash the real Tiger (not a euphemism).
Alas, to wash away our disappointment with Tiger's ad, here are the 11 most ridiculous Japanese ads featuring shouting, over-emoting American celebrities.
11. Brad Pitt for Roots
Alone in an office, Pitt takes a swig of coffee-in-a-can, which then causes him to dance, shadowbox, smell his own armpits and also briefly clone himself. But the most ridiculous part of the whole thing is the concept that Brad Pitt works in some office.
10. Ben Stiller for Kirin Chu-Hi
Chu-hi appears to be a lemony alcoholic drink, so basically Japan’s precursor to Four Loko. Surrounded by cheerleaders and football players (they play football in Japan?), Stiller excitedly opens a can and, in the only English word in the whole ad, declares, “Fresh!”
9. Keanu Reeves for Suntory Reserve
In this drink ad (I’m beginning to sense a trend here), Reeves is toiling away at a computer in the dark, long before he’d make his career doing that as Neo in "The Matrix." But this time around, the vibe is less “the One” and more “deleted scene from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.”
8. Arnold Schwarzenegger for V&V
Arnold speaking Japanese? Check. Arnold in a golden toga? Check. Arnold’s disembodied head? Check. I believe that’s called the Japanese Ad Trifecta.
7. Natalie Portman for Lux
The only female star on the list, Portman pulls up on a motorcycle as she’s late for her...fencing audition? But her hair is stupendous, so she makes the fencing team, or something.
6. Sylvester Stallone for Bayern
Stallone is playing golf, but suddenly he brandishes a sausage on a fork. Oh, I get it! Links at the links. But, wait, did he have eating utensils, sausage and some sort of cooking implement stored in his golf bag?
5. Michael J. Fox for...another mystery beverage
Yet another nonsensical ad for liquid excitement that makes one engage in kooky activities that in no way inform anyone about the specifics of said drink. Pay special attention at the :22 mark for a trademark Michael J. Fox moment.
4. Bruce Willis for Eneos
Willis dons an old timey pajama hat in what appears to be an ad for either a credit card company or rotary phones. Or alien stun guns. Definitely one of those three.
3. Hulk Hogan for BigFlow
I honestly have no idea what's going on here. The Hulkster, in his wrestling onesies, serenades a baby about some sort of air-conditioning unit. You figure it out.
2. Nicolas Cage for Sankyo
Apparently when Nicolas Cage isn’t busy making movies (which is not very often), he spends his free time starring in commercials for something called Sankyo Pachinko. There was quite a stable to choose from, but we picked the two in which he acted the most Nicolas Cage-y.
1. John Travolta for Tokyo Drink
This one not only has a sweaty Travolta dance-lifting in a headband, but features a hyper-cheesy '80s jingle.
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