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Bubble Boy (Soundtrack) by John Ottman

Pop Open the Bubbly
Review by Christopher Coleman


Bubble Boy (Soundtrack) by John Ottman

Bubble Boy (Soundtrack) by John Ottman

Category  Score

Originality 9
Music Selection 8
Composition 8
CD Length 7
Track Order 8
Performance 8
Final Score 8/10


Real Audio Clips

Track 1 - Suite 2

Track17 -
Cows and Ice Cream

Track 20 - Reunion




John Ottman
John Ottman


Quick Quotes



Composed by John Ottman
Produced by John Ottman and Casey Stone
Orchestrations by John Ottman and Damon Intrabartolo
Additional Arrangements: Deborah Lurie
Executive Producers: Robert Townson
Performed by the Hollywood Studio Orchestra
Released by Varese Sarabande Records September 11, 2001

Producer Beau Flynn's short career has certainly not been one that has strived to stay "between the lines."  With both Tigerland and Requiem for a Dream, Flynn pushed and passed countless lines of establishment...which has helped endear him and his work to so many.  Flynn teams up with director Blair Hayes in delivering his latest creation, Bubble Boy.  Bubble boy is an irreverent-road-trip-story that pokes fun at just about any group you can name yet under all the comedic-jabs it attempts to share some positive messages.  With the storyline of a young man, born with immune deficiencies, trapped in the confines of his bubble-room and then bubble-suit, and in pursuit of the girl he loves, just about anything could go...and it does.  Meeting every sort of societal-oddity possible, the bubble boy, Jimmy Livingston, has one adventure after another in the course of his quest.  Composer Danny Elfman might be the first to come to mind when thinking of the perfect fit for such a film...at least he would have been a decade or so ago.  Instead, composer John Ottman, no slouch when it comes to sheer range, was brought on to provide the score for Bubble Boy.

Bubble Boy is one of those films that one must expect the unexpected and so goes the score.  Like many comedy-scores, there are a dozen or more musical genres exploited and a handful of familiar themes from other films and pop culture as well.  From Ottman's quote of "America the Beautiful" in track 1, to his use of Bill Conti's famous theme from Rocky (performed in a surprisingly faithful manner to the original) in track 12, Bubble Boy is constantly grabbing the listeners attention.  If that isn't a wide enough variety, there is the bluegrass influenced Bus Stop (7), the hip-hopped Next Stop (14) and Daydream (19), and the sitar-lead, Cows and Ice Cream (17).  There is almost no style or genre Ottman doesn't use at some point in this score.  Still, upon careful inspection, one will hear consistent use of his main themes worked into the music in surprising ways.

With all its variety, Bubble Boy does have at least one thread that keeps the whole thing tied together - the main theme.  On the soundtrack, it is most frequently heard being performed by either synthesized or live chorus.  The soundtrack is launched by one of its clearest performances in Ottman's synthesized demo of Birth of Bubble Boy   (1).  The theme is briefly quoted in a number of other tracks, at faster tempos, by guitars, by brass, by full orchestra or even by the aforementioned, sitar.

Contrasting the aggressive levity, John Ottman also touches the emotional-heart of the film.  Heartbroken (3) and Reunion (20) feature the film's love theme.  Lead by guitar but accompanied by a lush orchestra, the theme is a breath-catching reprieve.  Closing the CD are two bonus tracks which were performed by John Ottman, the second of which, Falling Star (22), is another quiet yet brief interlude.

Overall, Bubble Boy is a fun score that is bold, no matter what style of music the sequence from the film might require.  One word people won't be using to describe this Ottman project is "shy."  The wide ranging score is similar to, but exceeds in large part because of its full orchestral performance, Mark Mothersbaugh's score to The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.  John Ottman's work is right up there with composer John Powell (Just Visiting, Evolution) and may have even trumped him on sheer "zany-ness."  Fans of some of Danny Elfman's work of the late eighties and early nineties will should find Bubble Boy the scratch for that "itch."     Varese Sarabande gives a fitting treatment to the score with almost 40 minutes of music and the high quality recording begs to be blasted in your car, home theatre system, or headphones. 

Track Listing and Ratings


Title Time


1 Birth of the Bubble Boy 3:03  ****
2 Phreaks! 4:07  **
3 Heartbroken 1:00  ****
4 End of the Ride 0:32  ****
5 Girl Next Door 1:29  **
6 Jimmy's Adventure 2:52  ****
7 Bus Stop 1:37  ***
8 Growing Up 2:50  ***
9 The Clouds/ Riding with Push Pop 2:07  ****
10 Chloe Explores 1:13  ***
11 Dumped/ The Chosen One 1:04  ****
12 Jimmy Escapes (Rocky) 1:26  ****
13 Rejections 0:56  ****
14 Next Stop 1:25  ****
15 Potty Mouth 0:54  **
16 A Father's Love 2:09  ***
17 Cows and Ice Cream 1:48  ****
18 Phreaks to the Rescue 1:38  ***
19 Daydream 1:16  ****
20 Reunion 3:18  ****
    Bonus Tracks      
  21 Jimmy Escapes 1:58  ***  
  22 Falling Star 0:37  ***  

Total Running Time


*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.


Referenced Reviews
Rocky & Bullwinkle  | Just Visiting



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