A-Ha’s iconic music video “Take On Me” may be over over thirty years old, but it remains part of the cultural lexicon thanks to countless homages, like this commercial —

and parodies, such as this surprisingly well done nod from Family Guy:

The original music video was directed by Steve Barron, but the real heroes were animators Candace Reckinger and Michael Patterson, the latter of whom had created the Student Academy Award-winning short Commuter that formed the stylistic foundation of A-Ha’s video:

The latest appearance of “Take On Me” can be found in a new General Mills commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios:

This one strikes me as neither homage nor parody; it simply recycles a single shot from the A-Ha video and uses it as the concept for the entire commercial.

generalmills_takeonmetakeonme

Unfortunately, even the single shot it borrows is filled with creative compromises that diminish its impact. The most glaring conceptual flaw is that the comic book and cereal box are displayed as full-color photorealistic objects, even though the commercial makers are clearly asking viewers to recognize the figures on one side of the mirror as drawings.

Reckinger and Patterson’s original video, which played a significant role in introducing experimental animation techniques to the masses, didn’t earn its reputation due to any particular shot, but because of dozens of exciting creative choices that were applied in the service of a smart story concept. This cereal ad manages to reduce that powerful artistic expression into a prosaic, lazy graphic trick.

Watching this spot did have a positive unintended effect: it reminded me to look up what Michael Patterson and Candice Reckinger have been doing recently. The husband-and-wife animation team remain busy as ever, creating innovative work that explores the possibilities of animation and graphic art. Much of their recent work combines animation with live musical performance; the visuals for one such project can be seen below while the rest can be seen on their Vimeo page.

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Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.

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