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Artwork copyright (c) 2004 Universal Studios and Dreamworks LLC; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Warm and attractive, if inconsequential, comedy score


The success of Meet the Parents was extraordinary in two ways - because it was so unexpected, and so undeserved.  Anyway, it also meant that a sequel was inevitable, and not only are Ben Stiller and Robert de Niro back for more puerile jokes but joining them this time out are Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand.  I'm not sure what all of that proves, but then I'm not sure I want to know anyway.  As a fan of both Randy Newman's songs and his film scores I have long been hoping that he would leave Pixar behind for a couple of years and find other projects on which to flex his muscles.  Well, he's done the former (though not through choice) with both Finding Nemo and The Incredibles having fine scores by other composers, but the "other projects" he's found have been rather hit and miss - Seabiscuit is one thing, and provides a great opportunity for film music - but Meet the Parents and its crudely-named sequel aren't exactly in that boat. 

His score for the original was largely anonymous, coming across as a somewhat watered-down version of his Pixar music, with one or two standout moments.  This time round, there is more character to the music, and it is both richer and more rewarding - but not nearly so rich and rewarding as a Newman score for a straight, adult drama, which is what he should be working on.  The new album opens with two new Newman songs which will polarise opinion as much as all of his others.  They're both the kind of feelgood song he has offered so many times in his film work, though this time "We're Gonna Get Married" and "Crazy 'Bout My Baby" are written in a gentle rock-and-roll style which he hasn't really worked in since a couple of tracks on his early 1980s solo album "Trouble in Paradise".  I would imagine an Oscar nomination will attach itself to one of them, probably the latter, but they're a little too disposable to be as satisfying as many of his film songs.

As for the score, as seems to be the case a confusing number of times with sequels, it is a far more consistent listen than the original, but without the easily-identifiable highlights.  There are some very sweet and attractive themes, but the music is probably at its most impressive when Newman accentuates the faux drama or slapstick of the film.  His Pixar scores have shown that he can write Mickey Mouse music better than anyone and, if this isn't up to that level, that's explainable because of the relative quality of the films he has to work with.  There is an Italian flavour to some of the cues, with some beautiful violin solos, and a warm and summery atmosphere created by pizzicato strings and an occasional female choir.  Perhaps the highlight is the thunderous action music occurring during the title track and the final score track, which is as unexpected as it is impressive.

This is not a major score, but it is entertaining and coupled with two feel-good songs, it's recommended for fans of the composer.  It doesn't last long, though (Newman's songs and score make up about 25 minutes) and so there are a few extra songs afterwards, including two written by Newman's long-time music editor Bruno Coon.  It all makes for an entertaining album, one which is deliberately somewhat lightweight, but most enjoyable.

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  1. We're Gonna Get Married Randy Newman (2:21)
  2. Crazy 'Bout My Baby Randy Newman (2:47)
  3. Baby and Me (2:10)
  4. Jack (2:55)
  5. Meet the Fockers (4:19)
  6. Suspicious Mind (3:18)
  7. The Shot (2:11)
  8. Here's My Plan / It's All Right Now (4:20)
  9. Going Up the Country Canned Heat (2:50)
  10. If I Were a Carpenter Tim Hardin (2:40)
  11. Wilderness (dub) HeadBone (3:35)
  12. Dancing HeadBone (3:42)