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DICK – John Debney

dickOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

John Debney’s Dick. If I wasn’t such a fine, upstanding member of the on-line film music community, I could quite easily turn this review into a rejected script from a Carry On film. But, contrary to popular belief, I have far more taste and decorum than that, so I will remain completely straight-faced for the remainder of this review. Honest.

Directed by Andrew Fleming, who previously made Threesome and The Craft, and starring Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams, Dick is the story of two clueless young girls who inadvertently become political advisors to none other than President Richard Milhouse Nixon (Dan Hedaya) – the “Dick” of the title – after they stumble across some rather incriminating paperwork while on a tour of the White House. John Debney has contributed one of the most camp scores I have ever heard in my life to accompany this film. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think that there was this amount of kitsch was left in the world, but Debney has somehow managed to turn his music for this fairly innocuous comedy into something of a nostalgia trip which has you laughing one minute, groaning the next, and wondering just what the hell is going on for the rest of the time.

The score is mainly made up of Mission Impossible/James Bond spy caper-style “sneaking around” music with double basses and creaking percussion, heard in tracks such as ‘Watergate Break-In’, ‘Lip Gloss Intrigue’, ‘Shredding The Evidence’ and ‘The Robbery’, which combines rather nicely with an attractive string-and-vocal motif heard in ‘Dreams of Dick’, ‘Arlene Is Heartbroken’, ‘I Thought You Were Cute’ and others. For the most part, this is fairly bland and unrewarding stuff, adequately conveying the on-screen performances but offering little to tempt the average soundtrack buyer. The problem with the majority of these cues is that they are far too brief – the shortest clocks in at just 34 seconds, while the longest is only 2 minutes more! This kind of stop-start scoring, while not necessarily Debney’s fault (he had to write around an album full of period songs), is nevertheless a little irritating, and the album suffers as a result.

However, the two performances of the main theme in ‘Skipping Through Town’ and ‘Skipping Reprise’ are terrific fun – two of the most saccharine, upbeat, sweet but hilarious melodies I have ever heard in my life, coming across as mutated cousins of Francis Lai’s famous “da-ba-da-ba-da” theme from A Man And A Woman. In addition to this, there is one fabulous cue of mock-sultry jazz in ‘Lounge-Y Dick’, and a surprisingly vibrant bongo-driven track in ‘Driving The Girls Insane’ that adds a little spice to the proceedings. There’s even a vocal track, performed by Michelle Williams, of the classic Olivia Newton-John ballad “I Honestly Love You”.

In recent years, John Debney has been dubbed “The King of Promos”, mainly because of the high percentage of his scores which do not find their way onto commercial albums and end up being belatedly released to the collectors market, normally by Debney himself. This is the fourth promo released by him this year alone – after My Favorite Martian, Inspector Gadget and Lost & Found  – and it proves that Debney has a sense of humor, both musically and visually, with a martini and a leopard skin print on the CD cover, and pimento olives adorning the CD itself!

Overall, Dick is a light, breezy but terminally forgettable comedy score which, unless it catches you in the right frame of mind, will probably irritate you far more than it engages you. The one thing it does have is a tremendous sense of fun and, unlike Debney’s recent horror scores I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Relic, will not give you the willies. Oh, come on! I couldn’t resist just one…

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Watergate Break-In (2:34)
  • Skipping Through Town (1:12)
  • Lounge-Y Dick (1:26)
  • Lip Gloss Intrigue (1:06)
  • Girls See Liddy (1:36)
  • Arlene Swoons/Shredding the Evidence (1:32)
  • Dreams of Dick (0:34)
  • The Phone Is Tapped (0:34)
  • Breezy Day (1:13)
  • I Honestly Love You (0:52)
  • Discovering the Tape (1:27)
  • High School Band (0:36)
  • Arlene is Heartbroken (0:48)
  • Followed By Dick Montage (2:01)
  • The New Boyfriend (1:30)
  • Spies (0:45)
  • The Robbery/Escape (2:01)
  • Driving the Girls Insane (1:33)
  • I Thought You Were Cute (0:39)
  • Skipping Reprise (1:12)

Running Time: 25 minutes 53 seconds

Promo (1999)

Music composed and conducted by John Debney. Orchestrations by Don Nemitz and Brad Dechter. Edited by Terry Wilson and Chuck Martin Inouye. Album produced by John Debney.

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