Improving Bad Comedies Through Music – Eurotrip

By Caellin Rodgers

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Scotty Doesn’t Know – Eurotrip

Bad Comedies. They’re everywhere. Mostly, I mean the frat-boy themed, crude humour and fart jokes type movie, usually American, often without plot and featuring women much more attractive (and with proportionally less lines) than the male stars – although bad comedy isn’t limited to this type of movie (I mean, come on, Tammy you could’ve done so much better). I’m not going to lie, I’ve hate watched these sorts of movies often (hello, Hangover), and probably even had the odd chuckle at some of the more 5-year-old-child jokes and slapstick comedy. But there’s one of these movies that I constantly rank amongst my favourites, even though the acting is just as bad, it still doesn’t pass the Bechdel test (google it), and there’s the same unnecessary quantity of super-hot girls and super-average guys: Eurotrip.

Unlike many of the other movies of the same genre (and I’m open to suggestions, if you think I’ve forgotten another diamond-in-the-poorly-timed-poo-joke), Eurotrip did something very clever underneath all the simplicity – they hired an excellent musical director (James L Venable, well done sir). Venable employs all the routine musical techniques that you’d find in high ‘classical’ works (and Star Wars), and combines them to create a rewatchable film, allowing for different experiences with each viewing.

Leitmotifs (for anyone who has studied music), is a common technique found throughout Eurotrip. It’s a simple concept, where a piece of music is attached to a character or an idea, and this music reoccurs everytime this character or idea resurfaces – ie Darth Vader has a leitmotif in Star Wars (sorry, I know you’re all humming it now). In Eurotrip, an obvious example of this is when Cooper talks about his ‘European Sex Odyssey’, at first on the plane, and then every time he thinks he’s going to get laid – rewatch it if you don’t remember.

Venable utilises music known to the audience, in order to communicate information about a scene in as short a time as possible – an example of this is when the team gets to Amsterdam, the opening few bars of Bloodhound Gang’s The Bad Touch. Using a widely popular song, familiar to most audience’s as being about sex, Venable partly foreshadows the events of Amsterdam in less than 30 seconds. In contrast, he also uses music that opposes what’s going on onscreen, creating a juxtaposition (and therefore adding to the joke) – Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff underlines the incident with the Man on the Train, an unforgettable scene because of this addition to the joke.

Finally, my favourite part of the music of Eurotrip is the in-jokes. At the beginning, used to highlight the main character’s motivation, the song Scotty Doesn’t Know is played, shortly after he’s been dumped by his long-term girlfriend. Effectively, this song destroys the ‘safe, predictable’ character of Scotty, allowing him to cause the events of the film. Throughout, especially in moments before Scotty does something outside of his comfort zone, this song will crop up again – either in the characters’ singing it on the train, or Cooper’s ringtone. Thus, the tune itself becomes a recurring joke throughout the film.

Because of the music, Eurotrip is a bad comedy like no other. If you haven’t seen it recently – I’d highly recommend seeing it again.


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