Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Composed by Chris Walden
Performed by West Australian Philharmonic Orchestra
Released by Moviescore Media
Monster movies aren’t just for grown-ups. There are all kinds of movies made for kids, and many of them follow the same theme: kids versus evil adults. Sure, there’s usually a clueless parent or a regretful scientist, but for the most part, adults are portrayed as evil money-grubbing fiends that can’t wait to get their hands on a child’s lovable pet to do unspeakable nastiness to it. Congratulations. That’s the plot of Green Pictures’ Monster Mutt, a family-friendly comedy in which an evil corporation on a quest to find a new energy drink manages to mutate a little girl’s dog into 800-pound, fanged shaggy muppet. But this review is not about the movie. It’s about the soundtrack. However the film itself plays out, the music is its own animal (pardon me…I couldn’t help it).
Composed and conducted by Chris Walden, this soundtrack contains everything one would expect from a movie aimed at kids around ten years old. There are no nightmare-inducing passages, no dissonant strings, nothing that would make a horror fan shriek “Oh My God!” The soundtrack begins with the typical “driving down a suburban street” type music heard throughout many kids movies. It is punctuated with emotive piano melodies with strings behind and sugary sweet melodies, woodwind parts that evoke child-like mischief, and a heavy brass section for moments when the movie runs with heightened emotional content. And, to be honest, it’s a bit predictable.
And that’s what it’s supposed to be. Let’s not forget, this is a children’s movie. The music is supposed to convey softened emotions for young ears, and let them know that something’s going on without sending them to therapy in the process. On that level, the Monster Mutt soundtrack succeeds. It also succeeds for Walden’s decision to have an actual orchestra perform the music rather than go with techno-synth crap. That he managed to get the West Australian Philharmonic Orchestra to do the honors is yet another level of success, as the performance of the music is flawless and evocative.
Where this soundtrack falls down is in its lack of through-line and “signature” sound. There is no central theme on which the rest of the soundtrack is built, and save for an abundance of clarinets, one would be hard-pressed to tell this music apart from many other kids movie soundtracks. There are a few riffs that might have been well-used, adapted for the rest of the movie, but they are largely ignored to the point that, instead of identifying the film, they stay as just interesting moments.
On the whole, the Monster Mutt soundtrack does what it’s supposed to do. It takes the film, amplifies its emotions, and does so in a way that is kid-friendly. It doesn’t break any new ground, and doesn’t provide any easily identifiable moments, but it does manage to sit in the background and let the movie run its course without overpowering it.
3 1/2 out of 5
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