The Simpsons Movie is right around the corner. After eighteen (soon to be nineteen) seasons on television the yellow family will be making the jump to the big screen. In addition to getting a bigger budget, better animation, a longer running time, and a widescreen aspect ratio, they are also getting a big screen composer. I know, blasphemy, longtime composer Alf Clausen should have been tapped for the job, having worked on so many cues and pieces over the years. Heck, even Danny Elfman would. You will be happy to know that the music does not stray too far from what has been established and ingrained in our collective consciousness over the years. You will hear bits and pieces of the classic theme blended throughout the score in a variety of manners. It never overpowers, but always reminds that this music is the Simpsons music.
Hans Zimmer brings an until now unheard subtlety to the softer moments, and some other bombastic action styled portions. Each of them plays in an instantly recognizable style, using the phrasing structure that feels like music from the show, but is still distinctive enough to stand on its own.
"Doomsday is Family Time" is one of the sweeter cues on the album, playing a new variation of the theme that was introduced in the prior track, "Trapped Like Carrots." That is, before it segues into the surf rock sounds of "Release the Hounds." Now there is a fun track that stands apart in the middle of the big orchestra, introducing guitar and rock drums into the mix. What follows is the sound of a big emotional sequence, "Clap for Alaska." It is big, grandiose, and I look forward to how the big drama of this cue is subverted by the Simpson clan. The drama and tension builds a couple of tracks later, with the new Zimmer theme getting expanded on in the curiously titled "Thank You Boob Lady."
The longest track is "You Doomed Us All.. Again" which opens with a somber solo piano, which is joined by woodwinds before brass and percussion kick in, amping up the volume. This is a definitely a central plot supporting piece, you can just tell, beyond the title, that something big is going to go down when this comes into play.
A little further on, there are a couple of playful tracks. First up is "Why Does Everything I Whip Leave Me?" which has a bit of a Simpsons Go West feel that is rather rousing in its infectiousness. That is followed by "Bart's Doodle" filled with a chorus of "La-de-da"s in the style of a musical circa-1940. It is kind of fun in the way it floats along.
Now, if you have seen the latest round of commercials and trailers, you are likely to have seen Homer holding a pig to the ceiling and singing a variation of the 1960's Spiderman theme song. No, that isn't here, but a full orchestra production of it is. It is very funny, and I am sure it will bring big laughs on the big screen.
The final track is fun for a minute, but the more than five minutes here is a bit of overkill. It is called "Recklessly Impulsive" and it is a techno version of the Simpsons music, and is likely a bit of filler to push the runtime past the forty minute barrier.
Bottomline. This is a highly enjoyable score, and actually has me more excited to see the film than most of what I have seen already, outside of "Spider-Pig." There is definitely a bit of a Danny Elfman feel to the score, nothing against Elfman, but with that classic theme, it will be hard to move away from that. Still, Zimmer has done some nice work here.
You will notice two versions of the CD available. The top one is the standard jewel case, the second is a limited edition that comes in a plastic, doughnut shaped case, which will be packaged inside of a pastry box. Pretty cool package, if you ask me. Other than the package, the content will be the same.