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Really entertaining score has action, adventure, comedy and romance
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
Thanks to Michael Arlidge.
Director Andy Tennant has firmly established himself as a "go to guy" for romantic comedies, after the very successful Hitch and Sweet Home Alabama, and he has brought composer George Fenton along for the ride. For all his talent, aside from Tennant's films the composer hasn't really worked on a great number of real box office successes - and it's odd that he has become a specialist at romantic comedies given how wonderfully well he has tackled more meaty assignments over the years, but unlike virtually everyone else who works in the genre, Fenton doesn't actually make all his romantic comedy scores sound the same. Admittedly the nature of Fool's Gold gave him something a bit different to hang onto, but this score is a far cry from what you might expect to find in this genre.
The film throws in a bit of action and adventure along with the alleged laughs, and the Caribbean location gives Fenton something interesting to base his score on, and instead of the usual sweeping strings and fluttering flutes we get music which is teeming with life. The Caribbean is a very musical place (I know this purely from listening to cricket commentaries) and Fenton takes trumpets, guitars, kettle drums and other percussion and uses them in a number of cues, including the fantastic opening title piece. It's great, fun music and when used in a faux-dramatic way (like the second half of "Saving Gemma's Hat") it's just fantastic.
Also terrific is the action music - there isn't a huge amount of it, but it's high-quality. Tracks like "Man Overboard", "Trouble in the Churchyard" and particularly the climactic pairing of "Finn to the Rescue" and "The Treasure, the Kidnap and the Sea Plane" are surprisingly straight-faced, full-bodied and genuinely exciting. The swashbuckling main theme ("The Stand Off") is fantastic. Fenton is adept at this sort of thing but doesn't get to show it very often, so it's great to hear it here. More typical for him is the romantic stuff, and he handles that well too - "Aurelia and the Queen's Dowry" may not be the most stretching of things for him to write, but it's really enjoyable to hear.
Where the score falters slightly is in the most overtly comedic sections, which sometimes recall the composer's seminal You've Got Mail - enjoyable enough, but we've heard it before, not just in that score but in all its soundalikes over the last decade or so. It's also a very long album for this sort of lighthearted thing - there's almost an hour of score along with a few disposable songs, and while the action music is substantial enough, the other material probably isn't really enough to sustain such a lengthy presentation. However, all things considered, it isn't hard to recommend Fool's Gold and to hope that Fenton manages to get a few higher-profile projects come his way.