Thursday, March 11, 2010

Commercial Review: CHARLES BRONSON'S MANDOM: 4-5 (197?, Nobuhiko Obayashi)

Stars: 4.5 of 5.
Running Time: 30 seconds each.
Notable Cast or Crew: Charles Bronson.

Well, to continue where I left off, I shall tackle for you all today the fourth and fifth installments of Mr. Bronson's Mandom hucksterage. I promised a progressive, exponential detachment from reality, and by God I am going to make good on that promise. Let's begin with episode 4:



Things get started off with a bang as Mr. Bronson cleaves a piece of firewood in two with an axe. Obayashi realizes what a lot of people don't– you don't need to bother with an establishing shot, a set-up, or any of those cumbersome cinematic traditions. When a director yells, "Action!," he means "start doing something IMMEDIATELY!"

"All the world/ Loves a lover..." Bronson continues to split the logs, and a few bottles of Mandom are revealed to be carefully arranged upon the stump that Bronson was using.

The purpose is twofold– it shows that Bronson always keeps some Mandom close at hand. And it shows Bronson to be an exceptionally skilled wood chopper- he can slice and cube and mince logs of wood in between the precious vials- all without damaging the liquid gold that is Mandom. He's sort of careless with his prize possession, but that in and of itself is impressive because he's so dexterous– like a dude who could juggle his Fabergé eggs... and juggle them well.

Then- a series of perplexing images: A helicopter. Bronson watches. Then, the helicopter is chasing a man on horseback (or vice-versa?). Then Bronson chasing a riderless horse. Then, Bronson leaping through the air (as he did through the sand dunes in Episode 2). Then, Bronson admiring himself in the rearview mirror of a helicopter. "Mmm....Mandom," says Bronson- which is accompanied by the still image of a football player.

Hold on a second- let me see if I can explain. Now, Obayashi only had thirty seconds to weave his narrative, and admittedly that is a pretty gargantuan constraint, especially when you've got Bronson and you want to use him to his full potential. But what just happened? Here's what I think: Bronson was chopping wood, when he espied a runaway, pilotless helicopter.

This was not particularly worrisome to Bronson, but he leapt into action, nonetheless. He was riding a horse, chasing the helicopter.

Then he was moving so fast that he created a temporal time warp– he was both on the horse and not on the horse at the same time. (See Schrödinger's Cat?)

Bronson teleports from horse to copter, possibly perpetrating the rip in the space-time continum which made HAUSU and DEATH WISH 3 possible.

He leapt up, and casually landed in the pilot's seat of the helicopter, guiding it to safety- pausing only to look at himself in the rearview mirror and to admire the schweet shades which apparently accompanied him on his interdimensional travels. Then I guess he went to a football game?

Now watch it again with this imposed narrative, and it makes total sense! Maybe I'll have to take back what I said about these things becoming progressively illogical.


Episode 5. Episode 5 is all about father and son time, but the lyrics are still all about lovers, so who really knows. We begin, like always, in media res, with Bronson arm-wrestling a young man who may or may not be his son, on the hood of a vintage Rolls-Royce convertible (?).

This commercial combines my two favorite things: Charles Bronson and arm-wrestling.

Perhaps it's part of an experimental Big-Brother program where namby-pamby thirtysomethings get Bronson to be their dad for a day. Remaining true to the product line, I shall henceforth refer to him as Man-Son. Bronson is winning. "Big Father," the subtitles remark.

Bronson slams the middle-aged kid's wrist on the well-waxed hood, and gives Man-Son his consolation prize- a fatherly slap on the face.

A woman sings: "All the world....loves a lover...all the girls..." Bronson and Man-Son leisurely saunter about the countryside. They pause near a brook for a hearty bout of slap-fighting.

The simple, rustic joys of slap-fighting.

See, the kid is learning a lot already. Back at the car: Bronson unscrews a bottle of Mandom and sniffs it deeply, leaning back to apply it to Man-Son's wrists.

They both lavishly splash and wipe the Mandom all over their faces, basking in the manly fragrance...

Now you are a Man, Man-Son. You can drop the hyphen and the 'Son' part.

The commercial comes to a close with Bronson and the newly-minted 'Man' driving down that asphalt ribbon of adventure to an unknown destination- who knows what the future will hold?

To quote Timbuk 3, "the future's so bright- I gotta wear shades."

To be continued...

-Sean Gill


Unknown said...

Came across these posts which are by far the best commentary on the Mandom commercials. Unfortunately most of them seem to be gone from YouTube. Any idea where I can watch all eight of them?

Sean Gill said...


Thanks for the kind words! I would check YouTube now and again, people seem to upload them (and then have them taken down) in cycles. One or two of them are up now.