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Mac and Me
  • Composed by Alan Silvestri
  • Quartet Records / 2014 / 60m

The notoriously awful E.T. rip-off Mac and Me was released to a savage reception in 1988, critics especially enjoying the spectacular product placement (Ronald McDonald stars “as himself” and there is an arbitrary five-minute dance number in a McDonald’s), the miraculous healing powers of Coca-Cola are used to revive the alien, who by the way only eats Skittles – and of course there’s the infamous, cringeworthy plunge off a cliff by the wheelchair-bound lead character (the actor playing him, Jade Calegory, does in fact have spina bifuda and therefore uses a wheelchair).  Escaping with his reputation intact was composer Alan Silvestri, whose score is generally considered to be the best thing about the film.  While he had written a few all-synth scores in the 1980s (sorry to mention them), by the time he scored this film his use of electronics was more akin to Jerry Goldsmith’s, being a complement to the orchestra rather than a replacement, and Mac and Me is arguably his greatest fusion of the two worlds.

The first two cues sum up the whole score very nicely.  “Family Planet” opens with a synthetic theme for the aliens which sounds remarkably similar to Gizmo’s little song from Gremlins – it’s curiously endearing, though you wouldn’t want anyone to catch you listening to it.  That cue then turns into a boisterous piece of comedy music, frenetic and fast-paced and to be honest a little wearing.  All is quickly forgiven because the “Overture” is quite wonderful, a Silvestri classic, a rousing orchestral treatment of the main theme.  These three styles then alternate as the score plays out – there’s a lovely warmth to be heard a lot of the time and fortunately the comical action music is generally much more coherent than that heard in the opening track.  Some of the more serious action later on the album is terrific, “Big Chase” undoubtedly the highlight, composed in that vintage Alan Silvestri action style.  Quartet’s comprehensive album includes the whole score plus a couple of Silvestri-penned songs (the less said about which, the better) and terrific liner notes by Daniel Schweiger.  Mac and Me is a very enjoyable score with a magical air to certain parts, which isn’t quite top-tier Silvestri (the raucous style of some of it gets a bit too much at times) but is still a very welcome release.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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