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  • Composed by Danny Elfman
  • Back Lot / 58m

A lavish fantasy, Dolittle is likely to be remembered for generations to come. Playing the title role is Robert Downey, Jr (reportedly paid several thousand dollars for his work) – evidently Johnny Depp was not available – but Danny Elfman was so he’s on hand to provide the music. This is Elfman’s bread-and-butter – a big, colourful, over-the-top fantasy film – he scores one every few weeks. Listeners are not likely to be in for much of a surprise, which I guess is the point – this is orchestrated to the hilt, fast-paced but with numerous warm interludes, twinkles all over the place, magical choir – you know the drill. I’m not sure what new thing Elfman could possibly have to say in this genre any more but (to state the obvious) the reason he keeps getting asked to do them is because he’s so good at them, and the reason he keeps saying yes is presumably because he enjoys doing them.

They do all blend into one somewhat these days – occasionally there will be a stellar theme which certainly stands out, as with the magical one he provided last year’s Dumbo – this score doesn’t really have one of those. There is a stirring main theme of course, introduced early on and then given an expansive treatment in “He’s Back” a little later – but it does sound a bit like it could have been written by a Danny Elfman algorithm and as soon as the album’s over, it immediately disappears from my mind. Really the score’s treasure (as is often the case with these things) is to be found in just how intricate everything is – at any given moment, there’s just so much going on. “Betsy Chase” is a wonderful piece of action music; later “The Getaway” is another highlight. The softer side of the score is best-represented in “Remembering Lily” (referring to Dolittle’s late wife) – pity the track is so brief, but it does leave an impression. Honestly, for all that it sounds like numerous earlier works, it’s still great just hearing Elfman do his thing in a score like this – the film itself may be a disaster but the composer took it seriously and it’s hard to imagine any fan of his not being satisfied with the result, which is a typically vigorous orchestral fantasy effort whose only fault is not having a truly memorable theme to set it apart. Yes, it is an obvious point that these things start blending into each other these days, but I still enjoy them.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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