02/13/2014 09:11 am ET Updated Feb 22, 2014

'Gangsta's Paradise' Is Always Used To Make Heroes Look Silly

Too much television watching will either have you chasing dreams or listening to "Gangsta's Paradise." For the fourth time in three years, Coolio's hit single from the "Dangerous Minds" soundtrack has worked its way into a movie -- this time, the trailer for Melissa McCarthy's "Tammy" -- where it's used as shorthand to show the comic ineptitude of the film's protagonist(s).

The "Tammy" inclusion comes on the heels of the song's use in "Pain & Gain," Michael Bay's satire of machismo idiocy and gangster culture. There, Bay juxtaposed a re-worked version ("they're living in a gangsta's paradise") with images of stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie walking in literal slow motion, like some warped version of "Reservoir Dogs," after buying a bunch of guns for their foolish (and ultimately deadly) kidnapping plan.

In 2011, Michel Gondry included "Gangsta's Paradise" in "The Green Hornet," the Seth Rogen superhero movie that time forgot. Again, Coolio's track is used to underscore the idea that these tough-guy heroes are actually just posers. (Props to Jay Chou, though, for handling the LV part with aplomb.)

What's going on in the kitchen? This: "Gangsta's Paradise" is the music cue version of a rubber chicken. It's a comic prop that filmmakers have leaned on to express a very specific punchline. (The other usage of the song since 2011 was in "Bad Teacher," another comedy.) There's nothing wrong with that -- mocking "Gangsta's Paradise" started with Weird Al, after all -- but it might be time to find another '90s rap song. We'd vote for "Victory," but your mileage may vary.



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