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Does the 'Mortdecai' trailer make Tom Jones sound new again? Video description
CULTURE ARTICLE

Does the 'Mortdecai' trailer make Tom Jones sound new again?

The plot and the actors are all very nice, but a movie trailer's impact often relies on its soundtrack. Let's explore the latest trailer tunes and see how well they're working.

This Week's Trailer:  A look at Mortdecai, a breezy little picture that stars Johnny Depp as a British dandy and secret agent who goes to America to recover a priceless painting. Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany help him caper around, and Ewan McGregor plays a British Secret Service agent who looks dashing in a suit. (In theaters January 23.)

This Week's Tune:  "It's Not Unusual," that swinging 60s ditty by Tom Jones.

How Literal Is It? Put it this way: "It's Not Unusual" is also the first song you hear in the original trailer for Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. If you need to indicate that your leading man is a louche charmer who makes witty comments between randy encounters with pretty ladies, then you've basically got to put this record on the hi-fi.

How Emotional Is It? It's the opposite of emotional. In this context the song clearly tells us that Mortdecai is a lark that doesn't need to be taken seriously. That's good to know, even if it's lazy to pick this particular tune. (Did nobody consider "What's New Pussycat?")

Will We Associate It With This Movie? We're not supposed to. The trailer is relying on our associations with the song to make us understand what kind of movie this is.

Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness:  Well… to be fair, Depp and Paltrow's blithe performances tell us a lot about this movie, too. So does that bit where the guy's head gets slammed on the table three times. Taken together, the whole package says this movie will be comfort food, giving us jokes and panache in a familiar way. If this kind of fizzy entertainment is your thing, then this trailer should hit your sweet spot. It may not be inventive, but it gets the job done.

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