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OVERBOARD – Alan Silvestri

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Gary Marshall, who was well known for his comedic success on TV with shows like Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Mork and Mindy, hired writer Leslie Dixon to write a new romantic comedy, Overboard. This outrageous story concerns a wealthy and pretentious married couple, Joanna Stayton (Goldie Hawn) and Grant Stayton III (Edward Herrmann) and Dean Proffitt (Kurt Russell) a local redneck carpenter. Joanna is a bitch of a woman who, after stiffing Dean for carpentry work, happens to fall overboard. She wakes up with amnesia and so begins a comic and outrageous story. Grant takes the opportunity to deny knowing her and seizes his long desired chance to escape a horrific marriage. Meanwhile Dean falsely claims to be her husband – seeking her household care of his four kids as recompense for his unpaid job. Well, be careful what you ask for! As the plot develops Joanna and Dean begin to fall in love, Joanna’s mother closes in on a search for her daughter, and the return of Joanna’s memory looms. To say the plot was silly and contrived is an understatement! Nevertheless the chemistry between Hawn and Russell worked and it suffices to say that Americans just love a romantic comedy. As such the film went on to become a big commercial success.

The selection of Alan Silvestri as composer marked an important milestone in his career; his first entry in the romantic comedy genre and a transition in composing style from a reliance on synthetic rhythms to more robust orchestral sound. Silvestri understood the need to create a rising romance in his score and we see as the score unfolds the germination and eventual blossoming of his love theme, one of the best he has ever written. Before we begin, the cue order does not lend itself well to the score’s narrative, as such I have reordered them to support a more cogent review. “Main Titles” speaks to the unpolished redneck persona of Dean and so opens very energetically with his theme propelled by synthesized banjo, hand slap percussion, repeating bass chords and electric guitar, all of which impart a raw and distinctly southern Rock flavor. Juxtaposed to this is the scene of the Stayton yacht entering Elk’s Cove. I really like how this infectious piece opens the album as it shows Silvestri understands Dean well and the story’s narrative. Well done!

The following five cues all display quirkiness and speak to Joanne’s new life as a member of Dean’s family. “Welcome Home” features an amnesiac Joanna/Annie entering her ‘home’ for the first time. This music of this short cue is carried by a dobro (resonator guitar), bass and harmonic, which clearly emote that something is just not right. Silvestri imparts a mysterioso sensibility as the slow-paced music resonates with a slow and accentuated off key southern twang. This musical statement is revisited in the next scene “No Boom Boom/There Is a God” as ‘Annie” is shown the couch. “Daily Chores”, which was unused in the film, is an animated piece that features a presto paced virtuoso violin playing in duet with a cello and accompaniment. It is for all practical purposes a neo-classical piece. An alternate version in track 15 substitutes the duet for strings and a longer presentation. In “Water Fight / Chase Mom / Couch Puppies” we see ‘Annie’ acclimating to the reality of her new home and family. The cue opens with a violin sustain that is joined by synth effects, which impart an odd mysterioso tonal quality. A series of repeating stark chords and tremolo strings usher in the mayhem as a frenetic Dean’s Theme returns in the form of chase music. Just hold on as the melodic line undergoes a steroidal accelerando with comic embellishments to the extreme, perfectly supporting the on screen madness! This cue is fun and just makes me laugh. We continue on with the accelerated pace in “Making Lunch” where Silvestri uses a manic synth piano to make Frédéric Chopin’s Minute Waltz feel lethargic! This again is all great fun. “Crabs ‘R’ Us” features ‘Annie’ out for dinner with her new family. A twinkling and mysterioso synthesizer imparts an ethereal texture to underscore the strange conditions that an unsuspecting Annie now finds herself. As the cue progresses, a drum roll ushers in a manic variant of her theme carried by a synthesized banjo and a harpsichord! Wow, this is very creative and perfectly conceived!

The following three cues are source music Silvestri used to establish the proper ambiance. “She Really Is Something” is an alternate Rock cue that opens with a heavy pounding bass percussive beat, from which after a long embellished synthesizer prelude an electronic guitar springs forth. The cue is more textural and ambient rather than thematic. This Rock feeling is taken up in the kindred cue “Dreamboat” which was unused in the film. With “World’s Best” we are treated to a decidedly upbeat and driving Barryesque cue.

The following five cues all feature Silvestri’s beautiful Love Theme. In “Annie and Dean” we have the longing of love entwined with duplicity and regret. Dean truly loves Joanne and while her reciprocity is heartfelt, it is not truly genuine due to her amnesia. Silvestri successfully emotes this with a warm melodic line using French horns and strings countered by oboe and kindred woodwinds. The conflict of emotions and motives born of this lyrical line transitions to melodic purity and simplicity carried by piano, which is soon joined by lush strings. The interplay of piano and strings is tender and truly evocative. Silvestri clearly understood the emotional narrative and created a wondrous cue that clearly elevated the film to a higher level.

In “I’m Sorry” the tender Love Theme is full of longing, yet speaking never the less to the inescapable outcome of their contrived relationship. We bear witness to a most beautiful thematic statement, which displays a progression of solo instruments emoting a wondrous melodic line; piano, celesta, flute and oboe. Supported by strings and gentile woodwinds the mellifluous theme is just wonderful and for me a score highlight. In “Something Not Horrible” we open with a duet of solo oboe and piano embellished with celesta. As the piano assumes the melodic line of the Love Theme we are treated to a full statement, which bears a tender and fragile beauty that brings a quiver. “The Jig’s Up” is a score highlight. The scene features Joanne, who has regained her identity, and is now conflicted as she attempts to reconcile her feelings for her disloyal husband and the duplicitous Dean. Solo piano and violin join to emote the Love Theme, which while tender is tinged with sadness and regret. Slowly woodwinds and strings join and provide not only a fuller expression, but also one of greater emotional potency. As Joanne drives off and a distraught Dean and his family struggle to absorb the loss, we bear witness to a stirring string laden crescendo, which brings this poignant cue to a wondrous conclusion. Bravo! Lastly we have track 18 “Love Theme from Overboard” which offers a classic pop rendering of the theme.

“Turning the Boat Around” features the film’s most dramatic scene where we see Dean and the kids racing out to catch Joanne as she is leaving. While this is happening Joanna realizes her true destiny but is helpless as Grant commandeers the yacht. We open with a sense of urgency carried by low register strings in ascent, mysterioso synthesizer and pizzicato strings. At 0:16 a string ostinato and a woodwind sustain initiate the race of the Proffitts to reach Joanne with a spritely and woodwind embellished rendering of the Love Theme. Snare drum percussion joins with the rest of the orchestra to further amplify the scene’s energy. Yet suddenly the dynamic flow incurs a sudden diminuendo, shifting to a twinkling metallic ostinato with piano chord echoes as Joanne realizes her true destiny. The frenetic and urgent pursuit music resumes in “Finale”, which I consider a score highlight. Slowly and inexorably Silvestri infuses increasing drive and energy into the melodic line that is joined by fragments of the Love Theme, which flows with urgency atop violins with militaristic percussive counters reflective of Grant’s determination to keep the lovers apart. At 2:42 we bear witness to a lush Love Theme as our lovers see each other from their respective ships. After a tension interlude a now refulgent Love Theme returns with wondrous potency as our lovers leap from their respective vessels and are at last joined in a joyous watery embrace. I believe that in this cue the Love Theme achieves it’s most sublime and satisfying expression. Just magnificent! Cues like this bring tears to my eyes and validate why I love film music! The alternate Finale cue displays only subtle differences and merits no assessment.

I must offer thanks to Messieurs Cyril Durand-Roger and Laurent Lafarge of Music Box Records who continue to resurrect obscure scores from the past. I commend them for once again successfully remixing in stereo a score from the original session masters, this time courtesy of the MGM archives. This score is arguably one of Silvestri’s early canon successes. He provides it all; the authentic twang of southern rock, animated and exciting action cues, pop songs, and most of all a love theme that stands among the best. I know it is all too easy to dismiss romantic comedy scores as trivial and superficial, but in this case you do so at your peril. This is a wonderful score and I highly recommend it for inclusion in your collection.

Rating: ****

Buy the Overboard soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Titles (3:59)
  • Welcome Home (1:26)
  • Crabs ‘R’ Us (1:17)
  • I’m Sorry (1:24)
  • She Really Is Something (Alternate Mix) (2:08)
  • Water Fight/Chase Mom/Couch Puppies (1:34)
  • Making Lunch (1:04)
  • Something Not Horrible (1:46)
  • No Boom Boom/There Is a God (1:18)
  • Dreamboat (2:43)
  • Daily Chores (1:03)
  • The Jig’s Up (3:19)
  • Turning the Boat Around (1:53)
  • World’s Best (2:10)
  • Daily Chores (Alternate) (1:58)
  • Annie and Dean (3:10)
  • Finale (5:03)
  • Love Theme from Overboard (2:00)
  • Finale (Alternate) (5:04)

Running Time: 44 minutes 19 seconds

Music Box Records MBR-007 (1987/2011)

Music composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri. Orchestrations by James B. Campbell. Recorded and mixed By Dennis Sands. Edited by Kenneth Karman. Album produced by Cyril Durand-Roger and Laurent Lafarge.

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  1. mattgenton
    January 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    hi to all at moviemusicuk.us i thought i had sent this newyears eve but it didnt send so i have sent it again happy new year to all of you
    – gentas

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