Thursday, December 17, 2009

Commercial Review: LABATT MAXIMUM ICE (1993, Michael Ironside)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 30 seconds.
Notable Cast or Crew: Michael Ironside.
Best one-liner: “The creators of ice brewing…now LABATT MAXIMUM ICE."

EXT- SCOTTISH CLIFF- NIGHT. Waves crash, lightning flashes in the darkness. You can almost feel the icy spray of seawater, feel the cold chill of the ocean wind. Ministry’s “New World Order” begins to blast away.

A long-haired figure, his robe fluttering in the wind, pivots toward us– this is perhaps the most evocative opening two seconds of a beer commercial that the world has ever seen. In fact, this is not just a commercial– it's a thirty second movie.

There is a lot to like here, so let’s get down to brass tacks: Ironside, wearing his General Katana costume from HIGHLANDER 2, is laying down a few facts about Labatt Ice. It is not a ‘request’- this is not some slack-jawed Canadian huckster: this is IRONSIDE. And he does not make suggestions, he commands things of you. And note that I say “Ironside wearing his Katana costume.” It is my contention that General Katana alone is not quite terrifying enough to compel us to try Labatt Maximum Ice. Ironside, however, perhaps while taking a break from filming (and thus still in wig and robes) is taking a moment of his valuable time to explain something to you, so, by God, you’d better listen.

He solemnly intones: “History teaches that the strong survive by becoming stronger… this lesson has not been lost on Labatt.”

“The creators of ice brewing…”

Ironside strides up to a Stonehenge-style construction, surrounded by ivy-covered ancient columns. To one side, a stone jar- brimming with FLAMES. Beside it is the main altar- filled with LABATT MAXIMUM ICE and surrounded by regular ice, just to keep the maximum ice even colder.

[I should probably take this opportunity to mention exactly how many lightning strikes happen in the thirty seconds of glory that are this commercial. If you’re of the school of thought that only one lightning strike can exist at any given time, there are ten. If you’re of the school of thought that ‘multiple-bolted strikes’ should count as more than one, then there’s at least twenty.]

Now is this ONE lightning strike, THREE lightning strikes, or SEVEN?

“…now Labatt Maximum Ice. Only Labatt possesses the power of ‘ICE BREWING.’ And only ICE BREWING can create..."

Mind those sleeves around the flaming urn, Mike!

"...Labatt Maximum Ice."

“Now, hold on a second!" some pencil neck in the back is whining. “What does that even mean?… ‘ice brewing…’ Pshaw.” Well, allow me to tell you: IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER JUST SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO IRONSIDE. But for those of you who resisted the urge to interrupt Ironside with your shrill, uninformed questions, I’ll tell you for real: during the finishing process, after the beer has been brewed, it’s cooled to approximately twenty to twenty-eight degrees Fahrenheit, which creates small frozen crystals (of water), but merely chills the rest of the alcohol. The ice (purely water at this point) chunks are removed, which ups the alcohol percentage of the remaining concoction. Now, next time, just take Ironside’s word for it.

“The ultimate balance of smoothness and strength.” [We could say the same about you, Mr. Ironside. But we won’t, because we’re afraid to speak in your presence.] “Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?” Ironside calmly, and casually concludes the commercial with this question, but it’s almost a warning, because immediately, lightning does, in fact, strike twice.

I’m not sure what that proves, or why Labatt Maximum Ice is evidence of lightning striking twice, but I’m not going to ask any silly questions like that while Ironside is around, I can tell you that.

Wow. Now, lucky for us all, they still make Labatt Maximum Ice, but its availability is pretty dependent on your region. I’ve had no luck thus far on finding it thus far in the Big Apple, but our buddies down at the 40 oz. Malt Liquor archive have provided a measured overview.

-Sean Gill


Unknown said...

You could prolly still get it in Canada. I remember this ad and your review brought back memories. Man, based Ironside alone, this ad almost makes me want to pick up a beer!

Sean Gill said...

Thanks! Yeah, I'm actually planning on stopping by my local skeezy 'beverage center' this weekend to see if they've got any Maximum Ice. It's one of those stores where if they do, there's a good chance it'll be covered in dust and will leave a rust-colored circle behind when I take it off the shelf, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.