James Newton Howard

The Postman [Original Score/Soundtrack]

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Despite his best efforts, James Newton Howard can't quite write a score that makes Kevin Costner's indulgent, three-hour post-apocalyptic epic The Postman believable. Over the course of The Postman's three hours, Costner rarely strives for simple, subtle emotions, preferring grand gestures of overstatement, and Howard's score follows suit, offering a sweeping score that heightens the melodrama, action, and sappy romance of the film. There are several pleasant moments in his score, but it never quite adds up to anything significant. Selections from Howard's score occupy the first seven tracks of The Postman -- Music from the Motion Picture. The next seven are devoted to folky songs performed by either John Manson or John Coinman. Much of this music appears during the town dance sequences in the middle of the film, and it's supposed to have a joyous, communal feel, but it often sounds too clean and forced to be truly effective. And, if it wasn't enough to star, direct and produce The Postman, Costner had to give himself a duet with Amy Grant on the Lovin' Spoonful's "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice" to end the soundtrack. It's much slower than the original, which means it's not nearly as exuberent, but the main problem is Costner's flat, colorless vocals. They're not terrible, but they're not distinguished either, and they might make even dedicated fans wonder why the song was even recorded in the first place. In all, The Postman soundtrack is as messy as the movie itself.

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