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TWO WEEKS NOTICE – John Powell

December 20, 2002 Leave a comment Go to comments

twoweeksnoticeOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s nice to see the development of John Powell as a film composer is continuing apace. Although his modern action scores, for films such as Face/Off and The Bourne Identity, have never really impressed me, his thematic consistency in scores such as Antz, Chicken Run, Shrek and Evolution appeals to me a great deal. And, despite the high quality of his works with Harry Gregson-Williams, it’s also nice to see him developing a distinct individual persona away from the clutches of the old Media Ventures franchise. As far as I am aware, Powell has never attempted a “traditional” rom-com before but, if Two Weeks Notice is anything to go by, he has a career following in the footsteps of Alan Silvestri ahead of him.

Two Weeks Notice, the directorial debut of screenwriter Marc Lawrence, stars Sandra Bullock (who also produced) as Lucy Kelsen, a borderline-neurotic activist-cum-lawyer who, through her efforts to save a popular community center being demolished to make way for a new apartment block, locks horns with super-wealthy businessman and entrepreneur George Wade (Hugh Grant). Impressed with her tenacity, Wade offers Kelsen a job in his legal department which, with some trepidation, she accepts – only to regret it soon thereafter when she finds that her Harvard law degree means nothing when she finds out her duties include picking out Wade’s wardrobe. Eventually, Kelsen decides that enough is enough, and hands in her resignation… only to find that, despite herself, she is falling for her handsome, if a little clumsy, English employer. Will true love shine through? It’s a Sandra Bullock movie… what do you think?

As befits the genre, Powell has embraced the romantic comedy musical ideals with open arms, and written a score which is as light and fluffy as Bullock’s on-screen persona, but is equally as attractive and easy to enjoy. The opening ‘Love Theme’ is a truly gorgeous solo piano melody, highlighting an exquisite performance by Doug Petty, and sits nicely with a couple of slightly melancholy score tracks, notably ‘Take Away’, ‘Helicopter Ride’ and the extended ‘Finale’, a beautifully dramatic piece which uses the piano in an almost operatic fashion – laudable, considering the limitations of the musical group.

The rest of the score is generally fun, urban, and jazzy in nature, making use of a comparatively small ensemble of twelve musicians, comprising piano, Hammond organ, guitars, basses and percussion. Highlights include ‘Divorce’, which has a funky travelling groove; ‘In the Limo’, which reminds me of Christopher Young’s lighter scores through its use of Hammonds; ‘Bobcat Pretzel’, which is the epitome of lounge jazz and conjured up images of hotel lobbies or nightclubs which think they are more upper-class than they are; ‘Protest’, which has a slightly dirtier-sounding soft rock tempo; ‘Emergency’, which is almost big-band tempo with a swing-like groove and semi-improvised Hammond scats; ‘Absolutely Beautiful’ which, oddly, reminds me of the 1972 David Parton hit ballad “Isn’t She Lovely”; and ‘Sad Bowels’, which works hand-claps into the mix and builds into a superbly energetic swing.

Basically, Two Weeks Notice is a lightweight score which has no real musical innovation or truly wondrous merit, but which is nevertheless enormous fun to listen to, and is a perfect fit in the context of the movie. In all actuality, there’s very little else to say. It’s the greatest example of film music fast food: great and tasty while you’re eating it, but instantly forgettable afterwards, and certainly no comparison to a five-course gourmet meal.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Love Theme (1:38)
  • Divorce (1:24)
  • Take Away (2:40)
  • Trying to Get Fired (1:31)
  • Helicopter Ride (2:30)
  • In the Limo (0:51)
  • Bobcat Pretzel (3:15)
  • Protest (1:26)
  • Interviews (0:44)
  • Emergency (1:40)
  • Absolutely Beautiful (2:41)
  • Sad Bowels (2:51)
  • George’s Speech (2:44)
  • Finale (3:42)
  • Epilogue (0:43)

Running Time: 30 minutes 17 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6434 (2002)

Music composed and conducted by John Powell. Orchestrations by Sonny Kompanek. Recorded and mixed by Alan Meyerson. Edited by Bunny Andrews. Mastered by Pat Sullivan-Fourstar. Album produced by John Powell.

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