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Enjoyable but unmemorable orchestral comedy score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Columbia Pictures Industries Inc.; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
After the unqualified success that was Norbit ("Sensationally abysmal" - Hollywood Reporter; $150m, says the worldwide box office) everyone can breathe a sigh of relief that director Brian Gibson and star Eddie Murphy are back together again, this time in a surely-hilarious comedy (how could it not be?) in which Murphy plays a spaceship. All the ingredients for success are in place and it is surely only a matter of time before Dr Strangelove's place as the critics' favourite comedy is in jeapordy. For once, David Newman turned down big bucks to score a pile of shit and so John Debney - no stranger to this sort of thing himself - stepped in - and I'm sure we've all stepped in to a pile of shit or two in our time.
It's impossible to say without sounding incredibly unkind, and I apologise therefore for doing so, but isn't Debney just the most generic film composer there could ever possibly be? I know "generic" is the in-thing in Hollywood film music at the moment, but even by those standards stuff like Meet Dave is really something - there isn't even the merest hint of something distinctive here, and while I would take this kind of well-composed generic any day of the week over sub-Zimmer generic (how I longed for Debney generic in Iron Man instead of the sense-numbingly putrid score it actually got), it's really hard to get particularly engaged by it. Nobody could deny how well it's put together - charming tunes, boistrous orchestration, typically-brilliant performance by the Hollywood musicians - but try remembering anything about it once the CD has finished and you'll be scratching your head more vigorously than a class of Romanian schoolchildren during a strike by the nit nurse.
One thing you can do is play a little game of spot-the-temp-track, because it might inspire you to listen to better things. Star Trek II is there, almost certainly; ditto the Jawa music from Star Wars; and I suspect there's even a bit of Debney's own Cutthroat Island for one or two sections. No blatant rip-offs, but it gives you something interesting to think about while the album's playing. Ultimately I shouldn't be so harsh on this - it's solid enough orchestral scoring - and frankly for this film it's a miracle the score is anything like this. Tuneful, enjoyable - just not very memorable. I'm sure those who do like the D Newman / Silvestri / Debney comedy triumvirate (are they all actually the same person?) will love it, and for others it does make a nice antidote to some of the trash we get served up these days.