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July 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /July01/

Richie Rich  
  VARESE SARABANDE VSD-5582   [32:45]

Richie Rich

Alan Silvestri's comedy scores ("Mousehunt" foremost among them) are an understandably mixed bag, as comedic film scoring is a tough task and the films themselves can tout themselves as comedies without ever offering the defining feature of such a title: humor. The film "Richie Rich" is mildly amusing and reasonably solid as family entertainment, and Silvestri's score follows closely, perhaps by too little a margin. The comic-book story of Richie Rich, the world's wealthiest boy, does not need a score that dwells on the obvious excess.

There are at least half a dozen musical swells in the opening track alone. About one crest a minute. It's not comedic; it is annoying. Must every major shot have a tutti accompaniment? Introduced, is an importunate main theme that sounds like something out of "West Side Story,' blown out of proportion, frequently accompanied by a generic ostinato to drive the pieces home with the loud-but-stale efficiency of a pile-driver. An intentional childish opulence and charm permeates the album within the repetition of these motifs, yet the result is not an impression of genuine youthfulness. Richie is rich, but also well adjusted and unmistakably a kid. A score meaning to accentuate this would treat the matter without pretentiousness. Instead, the music implies the role-playing of a boy who found his father's briefcase.

The score's lighthearted burlesque approach is no match for the small sampling of action music. For a 'kiddie flick,' that music is unexpectedly, wonderfully masculine. Although hardly inventive (the soundtrack utilizes a standard array of hiccupping brass, heavy-duty percussion and string dramatics), these moments are fun and outshine several of those action-adventure symphonies about twisted metal and airborne body parts.

Album production is certainly nothing fancy: just a few film stills (though kudos for the inclusion of one from Claudia Schiffer's appearance).

Music like this is appreciable, but it is a simple appreciation that doesn't move emotion or laughter so much as it implies them. Silvestri is a solid composer with several high-quality, some potentially classic works on his résumé, so I wonder what happened when the highest compliment I can offer for this score is, "It works quite well on road trips."

Jeffrey Wheeler


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