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NEWS & TRENDS ARTICLE

TRAILER TUNES: 'ENOUGH SAID' & 'AIN'T THAT A KICK IN THE HEAD?'

At the intersection of movie trailers and music, what does Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" tell us about Nicole Holofcener's film?

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 of orchestral score, it's the music that most often makes a trailer.

This Week's Trailer: Enough Said, heralding the latest effort from writer/director Nicole Holofcener. This film appears to be taking a break from the status-conscious comedy of manners that Holofcener had been lingering on, with Friends With Money and Please Give, and more towards the kind of relationship comedy we haven't seen since at least Walking and Talking. The film will also no doubt be notable for one of the final screen appearances by James Gandolfini. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a woman who starts to date Gandolfini, only to discover that he's the ex of her friend (Catherine Keener) who ends up unwittingly warning her about his less than stellar qualities.

This Week's Tune(s): "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" the swinging standard popularized by the late Dean Martin.

How Literal Is It? As with many songs of that era, there isn't a ton of "there" to the lyrics. Which makes them incredibly malleable for any kind of film/TV/trailer context, and thus why you hear them -- and this song in particular -- so often. Basically, any romantic comedy is going to involve a strange circumstance or situation, and thus a sentiment like "ain't that a kick in the head?" will always apply.

How Emotional Is It? The point of including a big-band Dean Martin song (or a Frank Sinatra song; or a Bobby Darin song) is to hearken back to old days, to suggest that your film has a kind of timeless quality, one that appeals to basically everybody. It says, "Hey. This is a romantic comedy without a whole lot of bells and whistles. One guy. One girl. That guy's ex-wife." When your cast boasts talents like Gandolfini, Keener, and Louis-Dreyfus, simplicity is such a virtue.

How Definitive Is It? Not at all! "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" is used so often, it's sometimes hard to even register it. Just in the last ten years, the song has appeared in: Hitchcock, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, I Love You Man, and Let's Go to Prison. Coming soon to a theater near you, you can hear it in Lee Daniels' The Butler. And speaking of Gandolfini, the song was featured in The Sopranos.

Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: The film runs the risk of blending into the overall sonic landscape with a song as often-used as Martin's song is. But I'm not sure novelty is what the trailer is going for anyway. Familiarity appears to be the goal. A non-intrusive song that has an almost subliminal happy-making effect on the viewer and that doesn't distract them from the appealing performances of the actors. Doesn't make for a dynamic trailer, but a decently effective one.

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