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A Troll in Central Park
  • Composed by Robert Folk
  • Intrada / 2012 / 64:27

Years ahead of its time, Don Bluth and Gary Goldman’s A Troll in Central Park is about a man in New York City who posts inflammatory messages to Internet discussion groups.  Audiences weren’t quite ready for such a forward-looking tale, even one featuring the voice talents of Dom DeLuise.  Years later, the film’s score has appeared on CD for the first time, courtesy of Intrada.  It’s composed by Robert Folk and is a lovely symphonic work (recorded over three years before the film was released!) and full of sweet themes.  The main title showcases several of them, beginning with a lavish waltz and then leading into a very pleasant tune which is adapted from a song written for the film by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, “Absolutely Green” (which isn’t on the album).  It’s all very happy stuff – really very sweet – and for a crusty old fart like me, simply extraordinarily over-saccharine.

There’s an odd claim in the liner notes from co-director Goldman that the score is not “Mickey Mouse music” – odd, because that’s exactly what it is.  It really does sound like the classic Disney scores of the 1940s and 50s, from its exuberance, its tendency to wildly shift styles in a matter of seconds, its precise spotting to hit sync points very frequently, and that permanently happy nature.  On a technical level it’s beyond reproach and one can’t help but admire Folk’s enthusiasm, but only when it makes occasional ventures into slightly darker territory (in particular the action track “Ride the Sail Boat”) do I find it completely satisfying to listen to – and even then, the dynamic flow of the action is abruptly halted by one of those “falling over” moments that happens in a lot of the more Mickey Mousey animated scores.  (The same thing happens in “The Final Battle” – it shapes up to be a monumental piece of action music, but so frequently grounds to a halt for a bit of kiddy-time that it can never truly satisfy.)  Every time I listen to this, I think I’m just too miserable to really enjoy it as much as others might – I think I’d like a (considerably) pared-down presentation a lot more – but even so, I can recognise that there’s a lot of strong melody here, and enough parts that can put a smile on even my face.  If the prospect of eating a pound of sugar isn’t one that really appeals to you then you might need to stay away, but if your tolerance levels for such things are quite high then I’m sure you will get a lot out of A Troll in Central Park.  ***

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  1. christopher (Reply) on Saturday 14 April, 2012 at 22:58

    Love the intro to this review, James :). I might like such a score, since I like my music as free from darker moments as possible.

  2. orion_mk3 (Reply) on Sunday 15 April, 2012 at 06:04

    I really hope that this is the first in a series of Don Bluth premieres and expansions…love to get my hands on a legit Titan AE and an expanded Bluth *anything* from Anastasia to NIMH.