Monday, August 4, 2008

Soundtrack Blashphemy

Now, I'm not exactly a child of the 60s - though I suppose I was conceived then, but that's a story I don't even want to know. Still, there are some 80s-60s movies that are somewhat sacrosanct to me - "Platoon" being one, "The Big Chill" being another.

I think I liked The Big Chill for the college friendships, the great lines ("I'm going to wash my hair and puke." "Puke first").

But it was also the music. My dad got the soundtrack and it turned me on to Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Otis and even the great one-hitters of the day, Procol Harem. But there was one scene in the film and one song I loved that didn't make it on - I always figured the Stones felt they were too good for it - that was "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Great song, perfectly used in the movie.

"And now," the priest says at the funeral of Alex (bonus point, who played the dead Alex?) "Karen Bowan, an old college friend of Alex's will play one of Alex's favorite songs." She strides to the organ and blasts out the chorus - much to the amusement of friends in the audience. But the film moves it right into the acoustic opening and on into the song. Perfect for the scene. Etched into my memory to this day.

So you can imagine my horror last night when I saw the attempt to have it used, ridiculously, to the same effect in "21." All in all, an average movie, the book, "Bringing Down the House," was great. But just as the movie made-up storyline of Harvard Med comes to pass, in comes that same acoustic guitar.

Now I don't blame the Stones, they can use the money, I'm sure. I blame the director. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but this is Hollywood theft and, to me, soundtrack blasphemy. Sure, the Stones sold out to car ads years ago and the song even ended up in the show 'House' at one point. But a movie, with the same acoustic opening at a key part in the plot, shamefully non-inspired.

Hey, you might say, Procol Harem was used in "The Commitments" and "The Big Chill," same song, "A Whiter Shade of Pale." But in truth, I don't even remember what scene it was used in during "The Big Chill," but I do in "The Commitments" - so what's that tell you? And "The Commitments" used it in an inspired scene (can't beat a priest joking about vestal virgins leaving for the coast).

So there you have it, a good reason to blow off "21" - that and, well, it isn't nearly as good as the book.

As you were.

1 comment:

noternie said...


I've run into the problem of songs being left off before, too. One in particular stuck in my craw, though I now can't remember if it was something else on Big Chill, Platoon or another I listened to in the late 80s.

I hated the movie, but Born on the 4th also had an excelent sountrack, even if some of the songs long ago went cliche.