Original Soundtrack

The In-Laws

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It's no surprise that movie soundtracks are schizophrenic affairs, and it's for a variety of reasons. Often, since the songs often serve a specific purpose in the movie, when they're gathered on a separate soundtrack they either sound entirely too familiar or too obscure. Soundtracks can also serve as a dumping ground for new and previously unreleased material that has nothing to do with the film itself. The soundtrack to The In-Laws -- Andrew Fleming's 2003 remake of the 1979 Arthur Hiller cult comedy classic, this time with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks taking the lead roles over for Peter Falk and Alan Arkin -- manages to cover all three bases, offering no less than four separate soundtracks and four separate moods in the course of a 17-track album. The blandest is the mid-section -- the songs that presumably are played on the dancefloor during the wedding, where KC & the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight," Chic's "Good Time," and Cameo's "Word Up" are served up once again, sounding way too overly familiar. Right before that is a batch of wedding songs -- Elvis' perennial "It's Now or Never," the Bee Gees' "Wedding Day," and Paul McCartney's nice, understated 1978 tune "I'm Carrying" -- that fit the mood well. More interesting is the stretch toward the end of lounge-pop and exotica; it's campy and tongue-in-cheek, particularly when Ella Fitzgerald singing "Sunshine of Your Love" is served up next to Claudine Longet and Yma Sumac, who always manages to show up on soundtracks like this. But the best, most interesting section is the first, which offers a bunch of power pop (something that's also heard a little later on the record, with the brand-new "More Than a Friend" by All Too Much, written and produced and published by the soundtrack's producer, Ralph Sall). There are two classics -- Badfinger's "No Matter What" and ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down" -- but the highlights are two Paul McCartney rarities. One is an alternate "Live and Let Die," which is basically the same apart from a slightly different vocal, but the real highlight is the album's opener, "A Love for You," a number dating from the 1971 Ram sessions -- featuring Paul & Linda, Denny Laine, Hugh McCracken, and Denny Seiwell -- that has been cleaned up a little bit and released here for the first time. It's a delight, a light pop number propelled on acoustics and colored with fuzz guitars and vocal harmonies, with an unpredictable arrangement that builds to a percussion-heavy finish. If it had been released, it would not have been hit material, but it's the kind of thing pop fanatics love and it's reason enough for them to pick up this record. For the more general audience, The In-Laws is merely a good soundtrack whose more idiosyncratic choices make it more interesting than the average contemporary soundtrack, even if their presence does mean the record feels more like a series of EPs than a unified whole.

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