The much-anticipated Superbowl commercials this year have been mostly rude (hello Brisk and Eminen), crude (I’m looking at you, PepsiMax), and lewd (ugh, GoDaddy). Let’s be honest, though: they almost always are (and to be even more honest, they can also be pretty funny). But some companies forgo the easy route of pushing their products with sex and cheap humor and instead try to make their audience feel a little better. There aren’t a lot of them, but the ones that really work stick out above the crowd. Here, then, are the top five inspirational Superbowl commercials of 2011 (in descending order). Honorable Mention – Budweiser – Wild WestBudweiser definitely tends toward the cruder end of the spectrum for their ads, but this spot about a grizzled gunman getting ready to shoot up a saloon takes a different twist. Rather than violence, the sweaty, dusty cowboys break into song. Maybe Budweiser has a bit of a heart after all.

5. NFL – American FamilyThe NFL pulls clips from every major television show of the past 30 years and strings them together. Jerry and Kramer, the Cheers gang, the Fonze, the Golden Girls – all of them celebrating the Superbowl. Nostalgic and just a teensy bit inspirational.
4. Bridgestone – CarmaMan and beaver share a moment. A tear came to my eye. Well, not really, but it is a cute commerical.
3. Coca-Cola BorderTwo border guards out in the boondocks share a moment over a Coke. Humorous as well as being a little heartwarming. One wishes the border of North and South Korea could share a moment like this sometime.
2. Chevrolet CruzeOstensibly created to push the new Cruze’s internet connectivity, it nevertheless manages to create a simple, touching moment between two people after their first date. One of the sweetest ads of the Superbowl.
1. Volkswagon – The ForceA little munchkin in a Darth Vader outfit struts around the house, attempting to manipulate his environment with ‘the force.’ His powers, however, are woefully incapable of pushing over baby dolls and levitating the puppy. That is, until, his dad comes home in a 2012 Passat. This is even more poignant if you have kids; I do this with mine every single day.

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