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Album running time

1: Love Theme (1:38)
2: Divorce (1:24)
3: Take Away (2:40)
4: Trying to Get Fired (1:31)
5: Helicopter Ride (2:30)
6: In the Limo (:51)
7: Bobeat Pretzel (3:15)
8: Protest (1:26)
9: Interviews (:44)
10: Emergency (1:40)
11: Absolutely Beautiful (2:41)
12: Sad Bowels (2:51)
13: George's Speech (2:44)
14: Finale (3:42)
15: Epilogue (:43)

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Artwork copyright (c) 2002 Warner Bros.; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall

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Romantic comedies / "chick flicks" are a relatively modern invention and film composers' approaches have varied quite considerably. For years the Georges Delerue style of light jazz coupled with sweeping strings for the romance was the norm; gradually the films became filled with songs largely at the expense of score; the most recent development probably came with George Fenton's You've Got Mail, with its infectious blend of catchy piano-based tunes performed mostly by a small ensemble. It will hardly go down with King Kong or A Streetcar Named Desire when charting the course of film music history, but it has proved fairly influential, and John Powell's Two Weeks Notice (with its irritatingly absent apostrophe similarly absent from this review, which uses the Warner Bros. guide to punctuation) is the latest instalment.

The film is the latest romcom to feature the brilliant, underrated Hugh Grant, probably the finest comic actor working in Hollywood movies; the album opens with a very beautiful "Love Theme" for solo piano. It's probably the score's highlight and is genuinely very touching. The rest of the score is fairly predictable, but I don't think here that is a bad thing - it's all performed by a twelve-man ensemble featuring piano, Hammond organ, guitar, bass and percussion (so there are no really sweeping moments) and is really thoroughly charming.

Aside from You've Got Mail, another score that would seem to have been an influence is Thomas Newman's American Beauty - of course, this is considerably lighter stuff, but some of the piano riffs are vaguely similar. But then, American Beauty will surely go down as the most influential score of recent years.

Charming and infectious though the score is, notable by their absence are any really memorable melodies. I know that you barely ever expect to leave the cinema these days humming the film's theme (and I also know that the ability to do so is by no means an indication of a score's quality most of the time) but here, however much you enjoy the score while listening to it (and I do, a lot), by the time it's over it's very difficult to remember what's just happened. Fortunately the album's length is perfect and enables you to just start it again once it reaches its conclusion. Two Weeks Notice is a pretty good indication of what a composer can do for a film like this when the director doesn't just resort to loads of irrelevant and heard-them-too-often-before songs.

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