I’ve never seen Meet the Applegates – I’m not sure that many people have – and its plot seems to follow the same old formula. The Applegate family move into a small town in Ohio and try to make the nearby nuclear power station melt down. Oh, and they are all giant preying mantises disguised as humans. Comedy has always featured heavily in David Newman’s filmography (though to be perfectly honest I find his comedy scores – few of which get released on CD – to be amongst his less interesting) and this 1990 film was one of the earlier ones he scored. The music is just as zany as the film would appear to be – a mixture of brash, militaristic orchestral material with Latin rhythms, a few passages of synthy (presumably joke) pop stuff – even some tribal chanting!
As a consequence, the album can have a rather bitty feel to it, with the necessarily Mickey-Mousey action music flitting all over the place (it actually reminds me a bit of the zanier music Danny Elfman has written for Tim Burton, in particular Mars Attacks! – and of course it predates that by several years) and the non-orchestral passages, amusing though some of them are, rather taking the flow away. The orchestral pieces are the king here, no doubt, with Newman displaying a great gift for keeping such madcap music so delightfully clear. The action is great fun, particularly the finale “The Fight”. The album’s a blast, really, despite its zany nature – not the sort to make you sit back and think “wow”, but definitely the sort to make you sit back and smile. ***