Super Bowl? How about ‘Superior Bowl’ instead? Steve Buscemi returns to the bowling alley for Michelob Ultra’s big game commercial, which features a steely-eyed Peyton Manning!
The previews for Michelob Ultra’s Super Bowl LVI commercial ask a few questions: What happened if Donny Kerabatsos – aka Steve Buscemi’s character from The Big Lebowski — got a job at the bowling alley instead of playing with Walter and The Dude? What if Peyton Manning decided never to pick up a football and join the Professional Bowlers Association instead? What if this wasn’t just a better timeline but the best timeline possible? The Ultra timeline? These mysteries are presented in the first look at Michelob Ultra’s spot for the Feb. 13 football extravaganza.
In one of the previews, all taking place at Superior Bowl, a dapper Peyton ties his bowling shoes, picks up his golden bowling ball, takes a deep breath, and prepares to roll what is presumably the game-winning strike. In the second teaser, Steve Buscemi prepares the lanes for a night of action. The shoes are sprayed with aerosol cleaner. The tap of Michelob Ultra is cleaned, and a series of Michelob Ultra pint glasses are prepared for the first order. A sign reading Ultraw Bowl’s 300 Club keeps track of all those who rolled a perfect game, including names like Rachel Morrison, Big Mason Martella, and Mei Mei Factor.
The AV Club notes that Electric Light Orchestra’s “Showdown” plays in both ads, suggesting that this might be a possible cinematic bowling universe. The tune was featured in Kingpin, the 1996 bowling-themed comedy featuring Bill Murray, Woody Harrelson, and Randy Quaid. Whether or not this full ad features all of pop culture’s biggest bowlers – Fred Flintstone, The Pin Pals – aka Homer Simpson, Moe, Apu, and Mr. Burns – of The Simpsons, and The Bowler (Janene Garofalo’s character from 1999’s Mystery Men) – remains to be seen.
Buscemi spoke about the lasting legacy of The Big Lebowski in 2018, sitting down with The Today Show (per Indie Wire) to reflect on how the film grew from cult classic to pop culture phenomenon. “I loved it. I thought it was really wild and weird and funny,” he said, adding that he was a bit apprehensive in taking the role of Donny. “When I was reading the part of Donny, I kind of didn’t get it. I felt bad for the guy. I felt sad. I thought, ‘Why does Walter bully him all the time?’ And as I’m reading it, I thought, ‘How am I gonna tell Joel and Ethan [Coen] that I don’t want to do this?’ And then I got to [Donny’s] last scene…Then I saw the relationship. I saw how much Walter really loves Donnie and how they’re like brothers, and I found it very moving.”