At the intersection of movie trailers and music, what does Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's "Good Vibrations" tell us about Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut?
There's always so much to unpack about a movie trailer: the stars, the plot, how much of the plot is being totally given away. But in many cases, the part of the trailer that sticks with you the longest is the music. Be it a pop song or a piece or orchestral score, it's the music that most often makes a trailer.
This Week's Trailer:Don Jon, formerly known as Don Jon's Addiction, the directorial debut from hot young actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
This Week's Tune: "Good Vibrations," the iconic early-'90s dance/rap classic from future Oscar-nominated actor Mark "Marky Mark" Wahlberg and his erstwhile Funky Bunch. The song shows up at the end of the trailer, as a comedic tag to the already quite stylized clip.
How Literal Is It? I guess that really depends on how much credit you want to give young Marky Mark for his metaphor-crafting abilities. Is "Good Vibrations" a sex reference? Um, probably. Particularly when followed up with "it's such a sweet sensation." So, okay, in that sense, it skirts literalism only by delivering a very clunky sex metaphor. In the case of Don Jon, it's certainly appropriate, since his (formerly titular) addiction is to porn.
How Emotional Is It? This is probably the best case for using "Good Vibrations" in your movie trailer, when you have a movie about a Jersey gym rat/club rat who smooths on tacky women and watched a ton of porn. All of a sudden, "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch is exactly the song to sum up such a character, particularly if you want to sum him up as a kind of silly, ridiculous person.
How Definitive Is It? Here's where the problem comes in: "Good Vibrations" has been used so often and for so long that it's undeniably a cliché. And you have to be verrrrry clever in order to use a clichéd song in a trailer and make it fresh. Don Jon comes close. Clearly this is a music cue as punchline, but even THAT has been done before. It doesn't drag the trailer down the way some overused songs can do, but it's very hard to give it points for originality.
Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: You don't always have to reinvent the wheel. If "Good Vibrations" is useful as shorthand for the character of Don Jon (and it seems that it is), that's the most important part, and in this case, it's an effective trailer. It's just not a GREAT one.