by Andrew Wright

2003 British Advertising Awards

dir. Various

Opens Thur Dec 18

Whitsell Auditorium

Outside of the Superbowl and other unfortunate incidents of laziness, modern man has adopted the act of ignoring commercials as a necessary survival trait. As such, suggesting the 30-second spot can occasionally break free from the white-noise blizzard of cheesy hiphop, bad Matrix parodies, and droning has-been pitchmen to be a viable source of entertainment would seem to be a foolhardy, irrational act.

Once the genetic avoidance factor is suppressed, however, the overriding impression of The 2003 British Advertising Awards--90 minutes of award-winning Brit commercials--is how marvelously unafraid UK idea-men are in depicting consumers as the craven, drunken, sex-crazed capitalist beasts they secretly are.

Even the McDonald's ads, traditionally the whitest in a Wonderbread field, traffic in enough sexual innuendo and double entendres to make Redd Foxx blush. (Thankfully, a look at the products being pitched, such as the truly revolting Cadbury Crème Egg Flurry, proves that we may still have the Brits beat when it comes to food quality. USA!) This persistent wit, combined with uniformly excellent production standards--no camcorder-shot, used-car lots here--equals a bumper crop compilation that I'd happily channel surf through breaking news to reach.

A few speedbumps to report, however: 90 solid minutes of this sort of thing can be a bit exhausting to take in, and the rigid structure allows for a few too many consecutive repeats with only slight alterations. Still, the best of these best--old women hulking out through walls after chugging Coke, an interactive homeless PSA that plays like Ken Loach on downers, household robots getting their freak on with vacuum cleaners, the truly hilarious continuing adventures of the world's unluckiest streaker--offer up more ingenuity and cleverness per shot than most features can muster in multiple reels. Taken away from the idiot box and freed from the shackles of instant demographic gratification, these sterling examples of corporate whoring come disturbingly close to art.