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June 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /June01/

VARIOUS (including Danny ELFMAN and John DEBNEY)
Spy Kids  
  CHAPTER III CH 30002-2   [31:36]

Spy Kids

What do you get when you mix and match the musical talents of a number of leading film composers, writer/director Robert Rodriguez and the band, Los Lobos? Well, the answer is a superficially entertaining hotchpotch that zips by at lightning pace and is just as rapidly dismissed and forgotten.

Trying to talk about individual cues on this CD can become somewhat convoluted, simply because each piece originates from such a wide range of collective or individual sources. For example, 'Cortez Family' was composed by the Hans Zimmer house team of Gavin Greenaway, Heitor Pereira & Harry Gregson Williams and presents us with a mixture of Latino acoustic guitar and symphonic action and adventure, very much setting the tone for everything that comes afterward. Danny Elfman's 'My Parents are Spies' is a mock spy theme, then there's 'Spy Wedding' from Los Lobos & Robert Rodriquez, a showy choral and strings piece with lashings of the band's celebrated guitar work (this instrument is the mainstay of the soundtrack). And that's just for openers! John Debney gets involved on 'Spy Kids Demonstration' (co-written by Robert Rodriquez and his brother Marcel Rodriquez) and this fairly standard suspense music (replete with that strong Latino vibe) is similar to other cues like 'Kids Escape House' (Greenaway & Pereira) and 'The Spy Plane' (Debney & Elfman). Better examples of this kind of genre writing are found on 'Pod Chase' (Debney, Elfman & Gregson Williams) and Elfman's solo composition, the big, melodramatic (very recognisably him) action music of 'Buddy Pack Escape'. Best of all is 'Floop's Song (Cruel World)' with vocals by Alan Cumming, a fine Danny Elfman song in his The Night Before Christmas manner, but sadly it's very brief and over all too soon.

There are a number of very short pieces (Minion etc. etc.) that come and go without making much impression and are credited to just about every combination of the talent already mentioned and if we needed any more evidence of the schizophrenic nature of this score then 'Spy Go Round' (written by Greenaway, Pereira, Robert Rodriquez & Marcel Rodriquez) is most interesting in that it features some very distinctive Elfmanesque moments! Must be a case of the composers playing the aping game, which isn't at all surprising considering the way this score has been constructed. Last and certainly least, there is the song 'Spy Kids (Save the World)' composed by David Newton, David Klotz & Emily Cook and performed by Fonda. Quite simply below average pop.

A jigsaw of a score, assembled as if it were building blocks, neat little packages to be placed in their appropriate slot and while it's fun in a light soufflé kind of way, I was left with an increasingly empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Inoffensive and accomplished enough without really having anything particular to recommend it.

Mark Hockley


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