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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: An extended look at Mommy, written and directed by 25 year-old wunderkind Xavier Dolan. The tale of a troubled Parisian teen and his feisty single mom , the movie won the Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival (It hits Canadian shores in September, with an American release TBA.)
This Week's Tunes: OneRepublic's super-smash "Counting Stars" and Ellie Goulding's reasonably popular "Anything Could Happen"
How Literal Are They? I haven't seen Mommy, but from what I understand, it's an odd, exciting film. Even the trailer, with its foul-mouthed mother-son arguments and trashy-yet-charming jokes, suggests it has a unique flavor, to say nothing of the weird aspect ratio it was shot in.
If 'Mommy' is craft beer, then these songs are Bud Light.
How strange, then, that the preview features not one but two ubiquitous pop hits from recent years.
I mean… "Counting Stars" has been in a hundred commercials, two hundred singing competitions, and probably your dreams. "Anything Could Happen," despite being a bigger hit overseas than in America, still scored a Beats By Dre commercial and spots for Girls and New Girl. If Mommy is craft beer, then these songs are Bud Light. If Mommy is a bespoke suit sewn by a precocious French fashion student, then these songs are the featured sweaters at Old Navy.
So their presence in this trailer is pretty startling. Are we being tricked into seeing an edgy film? "Hey, this picture's like every other wacky family comedy! Buy some Junior Mints and ride the laugh train!" Or is there ultimately something pedestrian about the story? Is there a larger point being made about how homogeneous everyone eventually becomes? I don't know, but I'm interested!
How Emotional Are They? I really like both of these songs, but their presence here doesn't make me feel anything but confusion.
Will We Associate Them With This Movie? Hahaha! No mere film can impact our associations with songs this successful! Their pleasing familiarity is the point of including them in an advertisement. We hear them, and we assume we understand the product they support. In fact, a movie like Mommy arguably becomes less distinctive by putting them on the soundtrack.
Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: It remains to be seen. If these songs help convince a mainstream audience that Mommy is in their comfort zone, then I guess they've done their job. But if the film doesn't break out of the arthouse circuit---and if the songs ultimately have no bearing on the story---then the money spent on licensing fees will have been wasted.