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THE SIMPSONS MOVIE – Hans Zimmer

Original Review by Clark Douglas

By now the subject has been talked to death… but at a first glance, it is a little confusing that Hans Zimmer is scoring “The Simpsons Movie”. Why not Danny Elfman, who wrote the classic main theme for the television show? Was he not available, or uninterested, or what? And if not Elfman, why not Alf Clausen, who has been tirelessly writing fun music for the television show for nearly two decades? The choice of Zimmer probably comes from the fact that James L. Brooks has always been involved with the Simpsons, and Zimmer has had several successful collaborations with Brooks (“As Good as it Gets”, “I’ll Do Anything”, and “Spanglish”).

Of course, the score for “The Simpsons Movie” is a bit different from any of those other lovely efforts, and takes a decidedly silly approach to the material. It’s interesting to note that Zimmer seems to be straining to sound like a combination of Danny Elfman and the over-familiar John Debney “comedy sound”. Zimmer is a composer who has a very, very distinct voice, and that voice seems to have been squished just a little bit here. Still, he was obviously having a good time with this score, and offers up a charming little listening experience.

Zimmer kicks things off with a fairly faithful cover of Elfman’s theme. It has a slightly bigger and fuller sound, which is appropriate for a movie version of the show. After that, Zimmer quickly introduces his own secondary theme, which is loosely based on the main theme. It’s a quirky, slightly fun little piece, but nothing particularly special. There’s also a vaguely Zimmerish “danger” motif that pops up here and there, and a couple of sentimental ideas that add a layer of tenderness to the score (listen to the very attractive “Doomsday is Family Time”).

The best parts of the score are the one-off moments of inspired creativity. There are three that come to mind. The first is an incredibly fun piece of surf-rock in “Release the Hounds”, an absolute blast that is far more exciting than anything else in the score. The second is “Bart’s Doodle”, which accompanies the all ready famous sequence featuring Bart’s… doodle. Hilariously, Zimmer scores this with chirpy female vocals doing 50’s twittering, which seems about as perfect an idea as possible for the cue. Finally, there’s an incredibly strange and spooky-sounding cover of the old “Spider-Man” song in “Spider-Pig”, done with about as much ominous mood as Zimmer can possibly put into it.

From time to time, Zimmer also does a few other neat tricks, most of them with a choir… but a good chunk of the score feels a little generic, if pleasant. Elfman’s theme shows up fairly often, but it only gets really fun one time, during the opening of “Thank You Boob Lady”, where it gets a bit of swaggering, Elmer Bernstein-esque brass. The worst cue of the score, by far, is the abominable remix, “Recklessly Impulsive”. It takes up a full 5+ minutes of the brief 40-minute running time, which only adds to the irritation. The album is not a complete waste of time, and I’m glad Zimmer had a chance to just have a little fun… but there’s a feeling that Elfman probably could have handled this a bit better, and produced a more satisfying album of music.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • The Simpsons Theme (written by Danny Elfman) (1:27)
  • Trapped Like Carrots (2:14)
  • Doomsday Is Family Time (2:27)
  • Release The Hounds (2:19)
  • Clap For Alaska (1:55)
  • What’s An Epiphany? (2:07)
  • Thank You Boob Lady (2:45)
  • You Doomed Us All… Again (5:52)
  • …Lead, Not To Read (2:05)
  • Why Does Everything I Whip Leave Me? (3:05)
  • Bart’s Doodle (1:01)
  • World’s Fattest Fertilizer Salesman (5:05)
  • His Big Fat Ass Could Shield Us All (1:46)
  • Spider Pig (1:04)
  • Recklessly Impulsive (5:27)

Running Time: 40 minutes 39 seconds

Adrenaline Music 40088 (2007)

Music composed by Hans Zimmer. Conducted by Nick Glennie-Smith and Blake Neely. Orchestrations by Bruce Fowler, Steve Bartek, Elizabeth Finch, Walt Fowler, Ken Kugler, Dave Metzger, Yvette Moriarty and Geoff Stradling. Additional music by Ryeland Allison, Lorne Balfe, Henry Jackman, Michael Levine and Atli Örvarsson. Theme by Danny Elfman. Recorded and mixed by Slamm Andrews. Edited by Ryan Rubin. Album produced by Hans Zimmer.

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