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Section Header
1993 Big Screen

2013 La-La Land

Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Produced by:
James Newton Howard

Conducted by:
Marty Paich

Co-Orchestrated by:
Brad Dechter
Chris Boardman

Labels and Dates:
Big Screen Records
(May 25th, 1993)

La-La Land Records
(January 15th, 2013)

Also See:
The American President
The Prince of Tides

Audio Clips:
1993 Album:

1. Main Titles (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

3. To the White House (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

4. You're On (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

8. Do You Like Magic? (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The 1993 Big Screen Records album was a regular U.S. release, readily available for a long time despite being out of print. The expanded 2013 La-La Land Records product is limited to 3,000 copies and available primarily through soundtrack specialty outlets for an initial price of $20.



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Sales Rank: 580428

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Buy it... if you have fond memories of the film's charming wit and seek the translation of that likeable personality into James Newton Howard's thematically rich orchestral score.

Avoid it... if you require something other than just a more comedic and outwardly playful sibling to Marc Shaiman's The American President.

Dave: (James Newton Howard) If you're a liberal and love the gamesmanship of America's national politics, then Dave is the kind of fantasy that brings a smile to your face every time you see it. At the top of his game at the time, Kevin Kline plays the owner of a temporary employment agency who looks exactly like the president of the United States, and when the real president suffers a stroke during sex with a White House staffer at a local event, the Secret Service employs this everyday guy to stand in temporarily. The closest advisors to the president actually hatch a plan to disrupt the line of succession by discrediting the vice president and setting up the impostor to be replaced when the real president dies. Along the way, though, the impostor proves wildly successful with the public and even rekindles a relationship with the first lady (who had despised her real husband), eventually foiling the attempts by his own staff to gain power and wrapping up the hoax in perfect fashion. The 1993 Ivan Reitman movie was both a critical and popular success, its plethora of cameo appearances by politicians and media personalities a funny snapshot of the era, and it is often considered the companion film to the equally loved dramatic comedy The American President a few years later. Similar is the music for the two pictures, Dave featuring a score by James Newton Howard that builds upon his own, growing experience in the genre and The American President handled very similarly by Marc Shaiman. The close relationship between the two scores is understandable given that the common sound employed by the composers for the general topic is successful in both applications. Shaiman built his career upon this affable, fluffy orchestral sound, however, and because this tone is more of his dominant trademark, it's easy to say that Dave is an example of Howard channeling Shaiman. Also at play, however, is a touch of James Horner's equivalent work at the time in the most serious passages and Howard's previous music for The Prince of Tides, Pretty Woman, Grand Canyon, and several others. This period was rich with comedic dramas for Howard, and while many of these scores exhibit the same saccharine tone, pretty piano solos, and flowing string melodies backed by noble brass, Dave is an exception in that it also contains a dose of militaristic movement to represent the awe and stature of the office of the president. The demeanor of the result is predictably sappy in a traditional, orchestral manner, utilizing no contemporary tones while beefing up the percussion section for the purposes of grandeur and a tingling sense of magic.

While Howard's previous efforts in this realm had expressed similar emotions, this entry carries weightier symphonic depth. This move might seem counter-intuitive given that Dave is essentially a character story at its heart, but the setting of the White House and its immense tentacles of power cause the composer to intentionally bloat all of his ideas so that the sound is as big as everything in the setting probably looks and feels to the presidential impostor. Even the thematic material related to the first lady, played with an iron sternness by Sigourney Weaver, is stated with imposing orchestral gravity, another recognition of how overwhelmed the main character likely finds himself. While grand string crescendos of melody are common in Dave, Howard allows a fair number of oboe and clarinet solos to weave in and out of the conversational scenes. Piano and drums both play intriguing roles, the latter sometimes used as a straight reminder of the power struggle in Washington, D.C. ("You're On" adds flutes for a battle of constitutional proportions). The score's grim moments are few but underscore important aspects of the plot behind the impostor, "To the White House" building up to the office's own theme with ominous bass strings and "Dave Passes Out" necessarily accompanying the climax of the film's hoax. The multitude of themes in Dave is the score's greatest asset. The primary idea is the one for the impostor's real persona, and its lighthearted and likeable personality graces "Main Titles" and "The Teaching Montage" with almost Randy Edelman giddiness from piano (not surprising given that Edelman and Reitman were regular collaborators as well). The main theme naturally flourishes as it matures during "Into the Fog" and it anchors the "End Titles" as well. The theme of greatness for the White House debuts with force in the middle of "To the White House" and features the Horner-like progressions of impact that are resurrected in "Into the Fog" and "End Titles." Softly settling into the middle of the score is the theme of romance for the first lady, expressed in "Do You Like Magic?," "The Picnic," "The Tunnel," and humorously in "She Hates Me." The soundtrack maintains outstanding narrative development that was betrayed when the 1993 score-only album arrangement was assembled. With fifteen minutes missing and some major cues out of order on the short Big Screen Records product, La-La Land Records rectified the situation in early 2013 with a complete treatment of the score, supplying numerous alternates and the entire score in outstandingly crisp sound quality. While the expanded, limited product is a delightful treatment of the work, Dave remains, on either album presentation, the likeable upbeat sister score of The American President and a strong entry amongst Howard's comedic efforts. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For James Newton Howard reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.35 (in 56 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.34 (in 62,100 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.75 Stars
Smart Average: 3.51 Stars*
***** 52 
**** 22 
*** 22 
** 12 
* 12 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Mediocre score, foolish review
  Mark Powers -- 8/17/13 (5:45 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings (1993 Big Screen Album): Total Time: 35:20

• 1. Main Titles (2:58)
• 2. The Picnic (4:13)
• 3. To the White House (3:04)
• 4. You're On (2:02)
• 5. Are You Threatening Me? (3:25)
• 6. She Hates Me (3:12)
• 7. The Teaching Montage (1:07)
• 8. Do You Like Magic? (2:24)
• 9. Dave Passes Out (1:11)
• 10. The Tunnel (1:49)
• 11. How'd You Get Started? (2:01)
• 12. Into the Fog (3:40)
• 13. End Titles (4:14)

 Track Listings (2013 La-La Land Album): Total Time: 67:51

Original Film Score: (49:10)
• 1. Main Title (2:59)
• 2. Secret Service/Bicycle (0:43)
• 3. You're On (2:00)
• 4. To the White House (1:53)
• 5. Is This Legal?/Sleep Tight/Reed Talks to Press (2:12)
• 6. Back to Work (0:53)
• 7. The Teaching Montage (1:07)
• 8. She Hates Me (3:12)
• 9. The Balcony/Bob to Reed's Office (1:45)
• 10. Limo to Shelter (1:04)
• 11. Ellen Watches Dave (1:17)
• 12. Murray Comes/1812 Overture (Tchaikovsky) (1:28)
• 13. $656 Million (1:10)
• 14. Are You Threatening Me? (1:53)
• 15. Ellen Finds Out (1:30)
• 16. Ellen and Dave Pack/The Tunnel (2:15)
• 17. The Picnic (4:12)
• 18. Let's Get to Work (1:11)
• 19. Bedrooms/Bob Drops Bomb/Keep Moving (2:51)
• 20. How'd You Get Started?/Congress (2:05)
• 21. Dave Passes Out (1:11)
• 22. Into the Fog (3:39)
• 23. Ellen Volunteers (1:52)
• 24. End Titles (4:13)
Album Mixes: (11:01)
• 25. To the White House (3:03)
• 26. Do You Like Magic? (2:25)
• 27. Are You Threatening Me? (3:24)
• 28. How'd You Get Started? (2:00)

Bonus Tracks: (7:40)
• 29. Hail to the Chief (Source) (0:25)
• 30. Secret Service (Alternate) (0:12)
• 31. Back to Work (Alternate) (0:41)
• 32. Bob to Reed's Office (Alternate) (0:28)
• 33. Limo to Shelter (Alternate) (1:05)
• 34. End Titles (Alternate) (3:59)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert of the 1993 Big Screen album unfolds into a poster and includes biographical notes about the director and composer. That of the 2013 product features detailed information about the film and score.

  All artwork and sound clips from Dave are Copyright © 1993, 2013, Big Screen Records, La-La Land Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 2/6/12 and last updated 3/2/13. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2012-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.