Now that I’ve listened to the soundtrack over and over again a few times – I still hold true to my above criticisms, but at the same time definitely appreciate how good of a job music supervisor P.J. Bloom did choosing music that supports the film. And the film is really what is whelming.
As with all highly anticipated soundtracks, I wanted to wait until I actually saw the movie before passing final judgement, and I have to say I’m surprised at the assessment I’m about to make. The biggest revelation being that while Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is definitely a very music oriented film, its prime motif is video games. The editing, the music, the production design, the costume design, style, special effects, everything – are all geared to support this. I know, I know, everyone else knew that but me. And I did know it. But now I understand just how important it is for anyone taking a listen to the soundtrack to be aware of that.
I know most of you scoffed when you heard that a movie titled “Hot Tub Time Machine” was actually coming to a theatre near you. The only reason I even saw it was because a friend somehow got nine passes to a free screening of the film a few weeks before release. I thought it was some sort of joke, but still – free is free and everyone went, rolling our eyes the whole way. Of course, none of us would have been there if it had cost money. We sat through the entire thing (all 99 minutes of it) and when the lights came up, all turned to each other hesitantly, almost embarrassed:
“Guys, did you think…was that…that was actually really funny”
And by that I mean Bobcat Goldthwaite, set to write and direct Schoolboys in Disgrace based on The Kinks 1976 LP of the same name – an album without any hit singles that peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard 200 when it was released. No classic song for us to spend the entire movie waiting to hear? BLASPHEMY.
“Schoolboys in Disgrace is a story that any kid who has felt that they are not being treated fairly can relate to, all set to some of the greatest rock songs you’ll ever hear…It’s the genesis story of a supervillain set to music. It’s the story of the world’s most charming criminal and a realistic high school musical for all the kids who hate sugary, sweet, unrealistic high school musicals.”
…which was apparently pretty much how he won over Ray Davies – Kinks frontman and writer of all the songs on the album – as well as an executive producer of the movie. From Goldthwaite’s Guest DJ Set on KCRW last October before the project was confirmed:
“Ray was asking, “Well, who would you make this movie for, if you made a musical of Schoolboys in Disgrace? And I said, “I would make this movie for all the kids who f**king hate High School Musical.”And then I actually saw him smile a little bit.”
Now as much as I not-so-secretly love High School Musical, that’s an attitude I can get behind. Honestly though, my first question when I heard about this was, “The Kinks know about this, right?” I mean, it makes immediate sense that the ABBA folks would be like, “YAY MUSICAL THEATRE!” but a seminal band out of the 1960’s British Invasion? I have to admit my knowledge of The Kinks was limited to one album on vinyl and a love for the use of “Village Green Preservation Society” in Hot Fuzz. So I did some reading.
It turns out storytelling through music is a trademark of their style – Davies created a reputation for concept albums, including Schoolboys in Disgrace (actually fashioned as a prequel to their earlier albums Preservation Act 1 and Preservation Act 2). Check out the album’s liner notes:
Once upon a time there was a naughty little schoolboy. He and his gang were always playing tricks on the teachers and bullying other children in the school. One day he got himself into very serious trouble with a naughty schoolgirl and he was sent to the Headmaster who decided to disgrace the naughty boy and his gang in front of the whole school.
After this punishment the boy turned into a hard and bitter character. Perhaps it was not the punishment that changed him but the fact that he realised people in authority would always be there to kick him down and the Establishment would always put him in his place. He knew that he could not change the past but he vowed that in the future he would always get what he wanted. The naughty little boy grew up… into Mr. Flash. (via BroadwayWorld.com)
So adding a book to the music doesn’t really seem that far off. Other than Davies producers include: duo Howard Gertler and Tim Perell (Last Chance Harvey, World’s Greatest Dad – another Goldthwaite directed flick), Sarah de Sa Rego and Andrew D. Tenenbaum. The project is currently in development. No release date is set.
Stage to screen adaptations most often fail because filmmakers get too attached to the original production. Staging is flat, clunky and well – too theatrical for the medium. Without any middle ground however, I have to say I’m interested to see how the album to screen translation works out.
I know, I know. This soundtrack was the talk of the town weeks ago. Florence! Muse! Vampire Weekend! It’s old news. We’re past it. Why review it now?
Well, it’s one thing to put together an awesome compilation, but it’s a much harder task to ensure so many stand out tracks fit in the fabric of the movie – a cheesy, tweeny blockbuster vampire movie, nonetheless. To be perfectly honest, I sometimes think that the great Alexandra Patsavas – while brilliant and talented and with a knack for finding great undiscovered tunes – sometimes takes me out of the story going “Oooh! Miike Snow!” for a 4 second use. At the very end of the first Twilight movie, when Linkin Park launched us into the end credits I think I may have groaned out loud.
That said, – Eclipse was a breath of fresh air. Patsavas nails it. The songs blend in when they’re supposed to, and enhance key moments that need some extra oomph. It’s still a cheesy, tweeny vampire movie (Taylor Lautner as Jacob says to Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen at one point: “I mean let’s face it, I am hotter than you” cue theatre bursting into applause), but this time the music is what gives it – at least some – street cred.