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MEET THE ROBINSONS
Enjoyable Elfman score alongside a curious mixture of songs
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
Disney's latest animation (all-CGI, of course) was not, by most accounts, a very smooth production, with John Lasseter feeling the need to step in and demand large changes to the movie after Pixar's chief creative force became Disney's. Attached for a long time has been composer Danny Elfman, scoring his first "straight" animation and getting a chance to return to his lighter roots which were so popular earlier in his career. However, don't expect a return to Pee Wee's Big Adventure here - Elfman has matured considerably as a composer since those early days, so the more telling comparison would be with Flubber or Mars Attacks!
Indeed, Meet the Robinsons is almost like an amalgam of those scores. Elfman hasn't had this much fun in an age - writing music so zany, with such zest, extracting a typically energetic performance from the Hollywood musicians. The score opens with a lovely, charming, whimsical theme in "The Prologue" - a sweet-natured reminder of Elfman's melodic gifts. But by and large, it is madcap, flitting about all over the place as it moves forward. "To the Future!" is great fun, with a choir singing the chorus from Elfman's original song for the movie, moving onto great prototypical Elfman female choral "ooing" - of course, we've heard it many times before, but it still hasn't lost its appeal for me!
The score as a whole is very enjoyable, with each track being a self-contained little treat. For sure, it is somewhat disposable - but Elfman maintains an irresistibly frenetic pace, and pulls almost everything from his bag of tricks which makes his music so enjoyable. It's never going to be counted amongst his more substantial works, but the half hour of original score here is a miniature treat for Elfman fans. Of particular note is the five-minute action spectacular "Doris Has Her Day" - great, undemanding fun.
As usual in modern Disney productions (and their albums), there are quite a few songs here too - a collection of covers and originals by pop artists, rather than the glorious musical numbers they produced through the 1990s. Are the slightly earnest croonings of Rufus Wainwright or Jamie Cullum really what this film - aimed at the youngest children - needs? Rob Thomas's "Little Wonders" is a good song, but would probably send most youngsters to sleep (or screaming out of the room). These are mostly fine songs, given good performances, but seem out of keeping with the film. The exceptions are the one original Elfman song - the entertaining "The Future Has Arrived" sung by The All-American Rejects, which fits the tone of the score more closely, and is surely more in tune with what the kiddies would want to listen to - and They Might Be Giants singing the Sherman Bros' camp classic "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" from Disney World in a fresh big band arrangement. It all adds up to making an enjoyable - if dispensable - album - and well done Disney for including a reasonable amount of score, for once!