Super Bowl 56 ads: Grading the best, worst commercials at the Big Game

Super Bowl Sunday! It’s here at last, the national holiday when we’re forced to sit through football in order to watch so many beloved ads. For the 10th straight year, Yahoo Sports is grading the Big Game's commercials. Liz Roscher (@lizroscher) is here to escort you through the dizzying array of celebrity cameos, awkward jokes and heartstring-tugs of this year’s contingent of ads, updating live as they air.

Grade A

Toyota, “Winter Olympics 2022: Brothers”

Toyota's Super Bowl commercial hallmark is athletes overcoming adversity, and they hit the mark this year. They tell the inspirational story of skiing brothers Brian and Robin McKeever, who worked together after Robin began to lose his vision to win 10 paralympic medals in Nordic events. Their story deserves to be told, and with everything going on in the world right now, it's a welcome reminder that good things can come out of bad things.

T-Mobile, “Rescue Your Phone Today”

Dolly Parton is a national treasure and she's finally in a Super Bowl commercial that's worthy of her. She is pitch perfect in this mock "Save the Children" ad — she even pulls a full-sized phone out of her ample cleavage. Never leave us, Dolly.

Hologic, "The Science of Sure"

Seeing a celebrity like Mary J. Blige in a doctor's office getting her annual checkup and screenings is really striking. It's not something we ever see celebrities do; most people probably don't even think about it. It's really important though — especially for Black women — and hopefully Mary J. can help remind some people to make that appointment.

Universal Pictures, "Nope"

I'm not sure what's happening in this trailer for Jordan Peele's latest horror movie, but I know one thing: If it's from the mind of Jordan Peele, it's worth seeing.

Michelob Ultra, “Welcome to Superior Bowl”

This ad is effortlessly cool. Those are two words that have never been applied to Peyton Manning, but it all works because he doesn't speak. Alex Morgan, Jimmy Butler, Brooks Koepka, and Nneka Ogwumike also don't speak. In fact, the only person who speaks is Steve Buscemi. "Effortlessly cool" has probably never been used to describe bowling either, but with a Serena Williams kicker at the end of this ad, bowling finally manages to seem cool.

Rocket Mortgage, "Barbie's Dream House"

Most kids don't stop to think about how Barbie may have gotten her dream house when they're playing. If she had to buy it like everyone else, the always modern Barbie would almost certainly use an app. When can we buy the Better Offer Betty doll?

Amazon Prime, “Thursday Night Football”

Ah, the life cycle of football. We're all about to spend seven months in the NFL-free desert of the offseason, and there's no way to make that better. But even though it's just a dim little pinprick at this moment, there's light at the end of that dark February through September tunnel. Football will return! Tables will be broken! Drums will be banged! Horns will be blown! Gongs will be gonged! And all that jazz! Hold tight, football fans. We'll make it through.

NFL, "Live Ball"

If the NFL doesn't immediately make a movie featuring the tiny computer football players, the world just isn't fair. The NFL never fails to make interesting and funny Super Bowl commercials, but this one might be a new high.

Planet Fitness, “What’s Gotten Into Lindsay?”

Lindsay Lohan? Sure, why not. She has a sense of humor about her messy past, and it's actually conceivable that she might go to a Planet Fitness given, well, her messy past. It's hard to know if the public will ever take her seriously again (it will take a long, long time to atone for "I Know Who Killed Me") but if they don't, this is as good a place for her as any: lightly funny commercials that trade on her history as a teen star who fell from grace.

Amazon Prime, "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power"

The only problem with this ad is that we have to wait until the fall to see the show.

Kia, “Robo Dog”

It's not entirely clear if the robo dog in this commercial is chasing the guy who owns an electric car, or the electric car itself, but it doesn't matter. Even robo dogs deserve to find their forever homes. And setting it to Bonnie Tyler's dramatic "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is the perfect touch.

Pringles, “Stuck In”

Everyone who has eaten a can of Pringles down to the very last crisp has probably experienced the "can stuck on your hand" issue. Yes, you could just tip the can over and pour it into your hand, but then you'd be dealing with a mound of Pringle crumbs. Pringles addresses this very real problem (the guy in the casket with the Pringles can on his hand was laugh out loud funny) with a commercial that far surpasses their Super Bowl campaigns from the last few years.

QuickBooks, “Duality Duets: Hero”

If QuickBooks doesn't release "All I Do is Win" by Cat Lady ft. Cat, there is no justice in the world.

Hellmann’s, “Mayo Tackles Food Waste”

Jerod Mayo randomly tackling people in their homes and suggesting a recipe to cut down food waste is just magic. Credit goes to Mayo for throwing himself into the role, both literally and figuratively. And if you're someone who has never liked Pete Davidson, his line at the end of the commercial is just for you: "I'm very hittable."

Budweiser, “A Clydesdale’s Journey”

Commercials for beer aren't usually this poetic or full of such symbolism. It's simply gorgeous, and tells the story of one of Budweiser's famous clydesdales recovering from a leg injury — something that horses don't typically come back from. It's hard not to feel even a little hopeful watching the horse galloping free.

HBO, “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers”

There’s some irony in a series about the rise of the Lakers being released when then current day Lakers are sinking pretty quickly. But that, along with the massive cast of stars playing the many real life characters of this story, makes this series a can't miss. Release it now. The world is ready.

Grade B

Disney Plus, "Moon Knight"

The newest series from Marvel stars Oscar Isaac and looked like the trailer for a horror movie before it made its purpose clear. Honestly, "Loki" was so good that Disney/Marvel have earned the benefit of the doubt, even though it looks like the titular Moon Knight is dressed in a mummy's castoff bandages.

Expedia, “Stuff”

Couldn't you just listen to Ewan McGregor (using his real accent!) talk all day? This is a simple ad, but it makes its point: Ewan McGregor should use his real accent more often. Wait, no, that's not it. Let's try again: Stuff isn't as important as listening to Ewan McGregor's real accent. Sorry, that's not it either. One more time: Don't buy stuff, buy experiences instead — experiences to go visit Ewan McGregor so you can hear his real accent in person. Close enough.

Netflix, "The Adam Project"

In addition to a massive slate of new movies (including "Knives Out 2," sign me up for that), Netflix included a short trailer for their new Ryan Reynolds vehicle, which appears to be about Ryan Reynolds and his kid self meeting? Ryan Reynolds really is everywhere these days, isn't he.

Avocados from Mexico, “Always Good”

A tailgate party at the Coliseum parking lot? Sign me up. This commercial makes me wish that the Bills Mafia tradition of jumping through folding tables really was passed down through thousands upon thousands of years, from Rome all the way to Buffalo.

Disney Plus, "The Goat"

All of Disney's intellectual property as actual goats is funny and clever. Which one's your favorite? Mine is the "Up" goat, being floated to the sky with some balloons while wearing a house around its midsection.

Uber Eats, “Uber Don’t Eats”

People trying to eat non-food things that Uber Eats delivers is an inherently funny concept. Woman taking a bite out of a (clean) diaper? Hilarious. Man filling his mouth with dish soap? Instant laughter (or instant nightmare fodder, your results may vary). People try to eat flowers, sponges, kitty litter, and it's all great. However, this ad loses points for making us watch Gwyneth Paltrow take a bite out of her vagina-scented candle (yes that is a real thing). Instant shudder.

TurboTax, “What If”

Filing your taxes on your own can be daunting and scary, because the consequences of screwing it up are very real. But this clever, funny and comforting commercial tells you it doesn't have to be that way.

Peacock TV, "Joe vs. Carol"

Kate McKinnon looks bonkers as Carol Baskin, John Cameron Mitchell (of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch") looks perfect as Joe "Tiger King" Exotic. The documentary was compelling, and this dramatization seems like it's going to be can't-miss TV.

Toyota, "Keeping Up With the Jones'"

Rashida Jones, Tommy Lee Jones, and total treasure Leslie Jones try to keep up with each other (in cars) while "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones plays in the background. Simple and fun, and the song is always a winner. The only flaw? They don't try to chase Nick Jonas away.

Peacock TV, "Bel Air"

Do we really need a dramatic retelling of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air?" Probably not, but it's coming anyway. Fortunately, it looks like it's going to be worth watching for at least a few episodes, if not more. It won't have the laughs of the original series, but if you think about the premise, it's pretty dark. Maybe we do need a retelling after all.

Verizon, "The Cable Guy"

The Halftime Show isn't the only thing making older millennials feel like they're one step away from the rest home. It's the commercials, too! If you're under 40 and remember seeing "The Cable Guy" in the theaters, congratulations! You're now the target demo for every Super Bowl commercial.

Google, “Lizzo in Real Tone”

Phone cameras should work well for everyone regardless of their skin tone. Seeing the difference Google's Real Tone makes for people with darker skin tones is pretty striking. Sometimes, the best commercials just show you what the product does. This one didn't need any flourishes — though using a song by Lizzo is obviously a welcome addition.

Lay’s, “Stay Golden”

Can some streaming service get going on a series named "The Adventures of Paul and Seth" please? Every week they would get into totally crazy scrapes, like accidentally launching themselves into space during a visit to NASA, or locking themselves inside a toy store, or accidentally harboring a fugitive. There could be an entire episode of them just digging a hole in one of their backyards and it would still be worth watching.

Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda, “Land of Loud Flavors”

I'm sorry but I can't finish writing this review, because I have to immediately start packing for my move to that town where Guy Fieri is the mayor. There are burger topiaries, bridges shaped like his shades, and everyone appears to get a sweet red leather jacket. I have a million questions about this town. Does everyone have to get their hair done like that? Are finger guns the official military salute? Are you sure Guy Fieri is just the mayor and not actually some kind of sovereign god king? You know what, I can figure that all out when I get there. I'm on my way!

T-Mobile Home Internet, “A Duet for Home Internet”

Anytime Zach Braff and Donald Faison can have an impromptu "Scrubs" reunion is a reason for joy, no matter what they're hocking. Also: Does Donald Faison ever age? He looks nearly the same as he did in "Clueless," which is a (brace yourselves) a 27-year-old movie.

Booking.com, “Idris Says Things”

Idris Elba says a lot of things in this ad. It's really just 30 delightful seconds of him talking about how Booking.com isn't a great name and the company isn't "lit." This brings up a pressing question: Idris Elba isn't in every single commercial for what reason exactly? He could sell a bald man a hairbrush. He could sell Super Bowl rings to Tom Brady. He could ... well, you get the picture.

Cutwater Spirits, “Work Smarter, Not Harder”

With all the recent winter weather in certain parts of the country, it is *extremely* satisfying to see someone attacking their snowy driveway with a blowtorch. Whomst among us hasn't dreamed of doing that? Or imagined their robot vacuum delivering something that's all the way across the room? The commercial implies these people are lazy, but in truth they are visionaries who don't just dream, they DO. If canned cocktails are part of their secret formula, then let's all march boldly into that future.

Nissan, “Presenting: Thrill Driver”

Why Nissan didn't go all the way and do a "Schitt's Creek" reunion is a mystery, especially since the list of actors in this one is a mile long. But on the flip side, I would definitely see an action movie starring a long-haired Eugene Levy. Put him in the next "Fast and Furious" movie and then give him his own spinoff. As a society, we deserve it.

Greenlight, “I’ll Take It”

Ty Burrell is usually Way Too Much to take, even in bite-sized commercial doses, but he nails it here. Everything leads up to the final shopping scene, in which Burrell says "What do you mean I'm broke?" in classic deadpan style.

Grade C

Rakuten, “High Stakes”

Hannah Waddingham plays "angry rich woman" better than anyone else in the biz. No one else could have played this one-off commercial character better, because just like her character on "Ted Lasso," she gets rightly shown up by a normal person.

E*Trade, "Return of the Baby"

The E*Trade baby makes his triumphant return to the Super Bowl, and he still hasn't aged. And in a very "Dexter"-like twist, he's now a lumberjack. But the world needs him, so he's back in the game. Welcome back, you mouthy ageless baby.

Bud Light Next, “Zero in the Way of Possibility”

If you had "Barbra Streisand song" as a square on your Super Bowl ad bingo card, this is your lucky day. A song from her 1966 album "Color Me Barbra" is just one of the ways this commercial feels like a fever dream. People are knocking down walls and falling through gashes in the earth, and then there's a giant woman playing guitar in the blue desert moonlight? Yeah, I don't know either, but the song whips and that kind of makes everything okay.

BMW, “Zeus & Hera”

This odd but delightful ad is really just an excuse for Arnold Schwarzenegger to Schwarzenegger around in a comically pouffy beard and loose beach wear, and I'm sort of here for it? However, the true star of the commercial is the teeny, tiny, winged unicorn Zeus and Hera have as a pet. It's on the screen for barely a second combined but it steals the show. That Schwarzenegger isn't seen holding it is kind of a fail.

Chevy, "Woke Up This Morning"

This ad gets negative points for aping the priceless, spectacular, all-time great opening credits of "The Sopranos." And then it makes its way back to neutral with Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Robert Iler, who played Meadow and A.J. Soprano, having an adorable reunion. You win this one, Chevy.

WeatherTech, “Special Ops Fit Crew”

WeatherTech usually does really serious Super bowl commercials, so this one is a refreshing change of pace! It doesn't look like the "Special Ops Fit Crew" come standard with your purchase, but that's probably a plus. How freaked out would you be if you saw those guys in your neighbor's driveway?

Wallbox, “Embrace Electricity Again”

Wallbox is a product that’s relevant to a small (but growing) audience. To need Wallbox, you first need an electric car. More and more people are going electric, and this ad might actually stick with them when they get home from the dealership and realize they need to plug their car into something.

Turkish Airlines, “Pangea”

Learning about Pangea was one of the coolest things about grade-school science class. Once upon a time, every continent on Earth was in fact just one giant land mass. Turkish Airlines isn't suggesting a Lex Luthorian plot to set off bombs and force every continent back together, but are merely suggesting that ease of air travel makes the earth *seem* like Pangea. That's an important distinction.

SalesForce, “New Frontier”

Matthew McConaughey could sell water to a fish. Proof? This commercial is 99 percent finished by the time we find out what exactly is being sold, and even though it's something most people won't need, I was still in. Though admittedly it was as much McConaughey as it was the totally rad choral version of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" from "2001: A Space Odyssey."

General Motors, "EV-erybody In"

If you need any more evidence that most brands are now fully on board with catering to Millennials, this commercial should do it. An assemblage of Austin Powers villains decide that they need to beat climate change so they can once again be the No. 1 threat to planet Earth. Would that make a good movie? Probably not. Does it make a good commercial? Sure, why not.

Vroom, “Flake: The Musical”

If a musical broke out every time someone completed a task that sounds simple but is deceptively difficult — like selling your car — the world might be a better, happier place. Vroom is trying to make that process easier but at least we got a glimpse of that music-filled alternate universe.

Irish Spring, “Welcome to Irish Spring”

What if soap was a cult? Irish Spring dares to answer that question, a question no one was really asking. There are major "The Wicker Man" and “Midsommar” vibes coming off of this ad, which manages to end on a happy yet sinister note. The stinky man, who was ostensibly being taken to be sacrificed in boiling water, reappears as a fresh, smiling, cable knit-clad clean man. Was his brain replaced? Is he One Of Them now? Or is he just happy to be so clean? Irish Spring, we demand answers!

AMC+, "Coming Soon"

If you were yelling "GIVE ME MORE 'BETTER CAUL SAUL'" at the TV during this commercial, you can trust you weren't the only one.

Grade D

SquareSpace, “Sally’s Seashells”

Would you believe that Zendaya and Andre 3000 could make a boring commercial before this? We've now found out that they can. Zendaya wears several cute outfits, but we get only a few seconds of Andre 3000 on screen. Brands really need to stop mining well-known tongue twisters for commercial ideas.

DraftKings, “Fortune: Life’s a Gamble”

There is no way to soft soap this: Technology has not advanced enough to make a current-day video look normal when combined with old footage. And that's unfortunate, because it really weighs down this fun ad in which Fortune, an actual woman, drives off into the night with a fur coat-clad Joe Namath. (The real, current-day Joe Namath, not the 50-year-old shot of him on a lawn chair superimposed into this commercial.) Brands must learn: If your concept includes blending old footage with new, go back to the drawing board, please.

T-Mobile, “Do it for the Phones”

Miley Cyrus, Dolly Parton's real life goddaughter, is totally fine in this follow-up to Dolly's ad, but it suffers from an unlikely issue: a lack of celebrities. If this song is supposed to be like "We Are the World" or "Do They Know it's Christmas," then it needs to be stuffed with celebrities, not extras singing into microphones. Is reality too much to ask for, especially from a multibillion-dollar brand?

Polestar, "Polestar 2"

It's just really hard to make a compelling car commercial without some kind of "out there" concept. (See also: BMW, Nissan, Kia.) Let's celebrate that the Polestar 2 doesn't look like other cars. Beyond that, you've probably already forgotten this ad.

Universal Pictures, "Ambulance"

I've seen so many ads for this forthcoming movie and I have absolutely no idea what it's about. Jake Gyllenhaal says "brothers" a lot and there are explosions and (of course) the titular ambulance. All of that has something to do with a heist? It's a mystery. And not in the fun "Knives Out" kind of way.

Carvana, “Oversharing Mom”

If everyone who buys from Carvana acts like this, I'm not sure that's something we as a society want. But since it's just a commercial, it's fine. But if you're ever in front of a judge and they start yammering about how easy it was for them to buy their car, please request an immediate mistrial.

Frito Lay’s, “Push It”

This commercial is passing on an important warning: Do not bring any Flamin' Hot snack products with you into the jungle or woods. The effects on animals appear to be devastating and extremely annoying. A sloth is not supposed to move that fast! And to tease viewers with "Push It" and never actually get into the meat of the song? That's just mean.

FTX, "Larry David Hates Good Ideas"

Larry David through the ages isn't something I thought I needed to see. But it was pretty great, because it's hard for Larry David to not be great when he's asked to play, well, himself. The letdown when the commercial reveals it's for a crypto exchange is absolutely epic. Et tu, Larry?

NBC, "Law & Order"

Can a revival of a historically great show (that you can still catch on reruns all the time) live up to the original run, 12 years after it was cancelled? I guess we have no choice to find out. Without Lenny Briscoe, it just won't be the same.

Amazon Alexa, “Mind Reader”

There's honestly nothing wrong with this commercial, but for a Super Bowl ad, the concept feels kind of stale. It doesn't help that Scarlett Johanssen and Colin Jost, a real-life married couple, don't look terribly engaged. It's just all a little predictable. There is a one transcendent moment though — when Scarlett tells an obvious lie, "Sweet Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac starts playing. There is never a bad moment for that song.

NBC, "The Endgame"

The television world has been trying to make Morena Baccarin a thing for literal decades, all the way back to "Firefly." Despite the fact that she hasn't aged a bit since then, it's just not happening. This show, which appears to feature people walking toward each other in an airplane hanger, doesn't look like it's going to change that.

Grade F

Coinbase, "Drops by Coinbase"

A floating QR code. A blue screen. Behold, an awful commercial for a crypto exchange. The only saving grace is that it's not for an NFT.

Oculus VR by Meta, “Old Friends, New Friends”

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, really wants everyone to think the Metaverse is going to become a thing. And they're trying to sell us their Oculus VR headset by ... telling us the depressing story of a human-sized animatronic dog from an out-of-business Chuck E. Cheese-like place? It's full of meta (get it) references to the evolution of Facebook, conveniently choosing to skip over its numerous data breaches, shady practices, dishonesty and overall bad effect on the human race. The spot is confusing and convoluted. Money — which Meta/Facebook has a lot of — can't always buy good ideas. Super fail.

Gillette, "Quick Shave"

Gillette is the industry leader in making commercials that feature close-ups of guys shaving. Unless that stretchy sentient towel rack is for sale, there's nothing new here.

Caesars Sportsbook, “I Said Legendary”

There's definitely some cleverness with the "I said legendary" line, but it takes so, so long to get there. And think about this: We hear more about Eli and Peyton Manning now than before they retired, to the point that we're overloaded. Peyton is in at least two other Super Bowl ads! Someone raise the white flag, because we've reached the official Manning Saturation Point. We as a culture cannot absorb any more Manning content. Can someone please get that message to the brands?

Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer, “Caddy”

Brooks Koepka's feud with Bryson DeChambeau is inherently interesting, but, I'm sorry, a commercial with Koepka getting drinking advice from his caddy is not interesting or funny. It's just not.

Crypto.com, "Fortune Favors the Brave"

Oh no, LeBron. Oh no no no. I dare modern-day LeBron to explain crypto to his creepily realistic younger self. It just won't work. Nothing about this works. No.

Cue Health, “Meet Cue”

Combine Theranos with the existential dread of every single device in your home being "smart" and you've got this commercial. There is nothing less comforting than imagining all of the smart devices in your home having a conversation you can't hear and aren't even aware of. It feels like a plot ripped from "The Twilight Zone." In fact, it's actually dangerously close to the episode "The Lateness of the Hour." Rod Serling might've known more about the future than he was letting on.

eToro, "Fly Me to the Moon"

All these optimistic crypto commercials are definitely bringing to mind the dot-com bubble and all the ads those soon-to-be dead companies ran during Super Bowl XXXIV in January 2000. Those ads were so optimistic, just like these! I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

Taco Bell, “The Grande Escape”

It's hard to know what to make of this weirdly high-concept commercial. It's got a whole "escape-from-clown college" storyline and absolutely zero Taco Bell food. The only Taco Bell thing we really see (beyond the outside of one of their restaurants) is a packet of fire sauce. Again: The plot of this commercial, which stars Doja Cat, is "escape from clown college." I'd love to see what ideas they tossed out in favor of that one.

Sam’s Club, “VIP”

Kevin Hart is quickly catching up to Shaq in the "I-will-literally-promote-anything" category. Using him in a Super Bowl commercial is risky, because there's a chance people will say, "Hey, what's that guy doing back on my TV screen again?" — which is not a company is hoping for. But in this case, the main issue with the commercial is this: In what world is Kevin Hart ever shopping at Sam's Club?