FUN FRIDAY: Spike Jonze Fails to Recapture the Magic

Spike Jonze’s new perfume ad is not some kind of artistic tour de force. Spike has done all of this before… and better.

Let’s start with the particulars. Acclaimed director Spike Jonze recently directed a commercial for Kenzo World perfume. The video starts out with a woman (Margaret Qualley) in a glamorous green gown. She’s seated at a table at what appears to be a pretentious awards dinner. She politely excuses herself then leaves the ballroom. Once in the opulent hallway, she begins a dance routine replete with spastic contortions.

For a look at Jonze’s latest commercial creations, check it out here:

(Video removed by owner)

Does this concept look familiar? It should. In 2001, Jonze pioneered the concept of an actor dancing in an opulent surroundings. It was featured in his video for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice.” For those who remember, the video featured none other than Christopher Walken tripping the light fantastic in an empty hotel lobby.

Here’s a look at Jonze’s initial – and original – take on this concept:

When compared to “Weapon of Choice,” Jonze’s Kenzo World commercials seems… well, flat. Of course, it’s hard to top a dance number from Christopher Walken. The man is one of the most unique actors of this or any other generation. He’s also a hoofer at heart, having trained as a dancer in musical theater.

I was captivated with “Weapon of Choice” from the moment I saw it. It was fresh, new, and bold, and the addition of Christopher Walken was sheer genius. Jonze follow up with Qualley and Kenzo World failed to impress. He should’ve came up with something new rather than try to recapture the magic from the height of his career.

It’s not like Spike Jonze is without the gift of creativity. His 1999 film Being John Malkovich was an art-house (and personal) favorite. He’s also directed some of the most iconic music videos of the 1990s. His work on Weezer’s “Undone – The Sweater Song” was done in one, long take. He followed this success with a hilarious homage to Happy Days in Weezer’s “Buddy Holly.” And who could forget his tribute to 1970s cop dramas with “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys? All these videos highlighted the full and vibrant palette of Jonze’s unique artistic vision.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with Jonze’s direction with the Kenzo World ad. Corporate culture is about finding a formula then repeating it over and over. This is done to milk every last dime out of an existing market and/or demographic. My friend Stuart Sweet said as much about today’s broadcast TV offerings. Of course, I had a different take on the future of free HDTV. Now I’m now wondering if I channeled my “inner Stuart” with my critique of Spike Jonze?

What do you think?