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Mr. Popper's Penguins by Rolfe Kent

Mr. Popper's Penguins

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Mr. Popper's Penguins (Soundtrack) by Rolfe Kent
Mr. Popper's Penguins (Poster and Memorabilia)
 

Mr. Popper's Penguins (Poster and Memorabilia)

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Mr. Popper's Penguins (Soundtrack) by Rolfe Kent

Mr. Popper's Penguins
Composed by Rolfe Kent
Varese Sarabande (2011)

Rating: 5/10

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“KENT’S score is all very pleasant, joyful and will lift the spirit of a listener at least momentarily. Beyond this MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS offers little and eventually becomes a chore in its unending enthusiasm.”

Not Much Pops
Review by Richard Buxton

A score in the style of MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS presents somewhat of an ambiguous challenge for a reviewer. On the one hand, one’s internal feelings towards it can be summed up in with remarkable ease, yet putting those feelings into words proves more of a task. ROLFE KENT’S music is just there. It does very little to stand out in any way, positively or negatively, merely acting as a simple backdrop, rather than something to be truly remembered. Of course, this can be said for many a comedy score. Very few offer cues that threaten to linger in the memory once the credits roll, exceptions being a small handful of DAVID NEWMAN scores perhaps. A run–of-the-mill such as this clearly doesn’t require a forceful score, or one that almost becomes an individual character in itself, but once a score is released certain expectations arise, often to never be met.

KENT’S score is all very pleasant, joyful and will lift the spirit of a listener at least momentarily. Beyond this MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS offers little and eventually becomes a chore in its unending enthusiasm. The themes present lack the substance for any inspired variations and therefore tend to meld together.

The soundtrack opens with a cue that goes some way to summing up the majority of music on offer here. “Radio Chat/The Streets of New York” (1) is relentless with its flittingly happy demeanour. The meandering strings that support the plucking pattern wander in a jovial but unnervingly aimless manner that eventually becomes quite frustrating. The subsequent track, “The Horn of Africa” (2), thankfully offers some more decisive ideas in its brass and string cacophony.

Aimless and vacant certainly seem apt to describe this when looking at it as a purely musical venture, so much so that it often resembles a collection of library music. Many of the cues lack any real development, choosing to stay within the boundaries set in the opening seconds. “Dresses, Daughter, And Eggs” (15) is an example of one such composition. The intent is certainly clear, but when a composition goes literally nowhere, it normally finds itself at the bottom of the pecking order in a playlist. Yet, this is the case with so many of the tracks on offer here. “Skating Date” (17) finds its groove, barring an admittedly flourishing mid-section, and tends to stick with it to the end. “Kent And His Camera Phone” (19) revives the bouncing style established beforehand and does little else. When KENT suggests a move away from this wearisome style, as in “A New Host of Penguins” (8), he experiences substantial success. The piece opens with frantic brass and strings that ramp up and up until a release into the overarching meandering strings heard throughout. While the piece does return to the very thing that holds the score back, it does so after having provided some variation and versatility. The very next track, “The Man From The Zoo” (9) provides another example of KENT’S ability to break from the shackles the previous tracks have bound him in. The result is not quite as rewarding, but it’s something at the very least.

As the climax of the film approaches, variation does tend to creep in with varying levels of success. “The Escape From The Zoo” (24) stands at five minutes, a running time that would suggest a greater opportunity for innovation, and emerges as one of the more successful cues on the soundtrack. A pensive opening eventually unfolds into more pensiveness, but this emotion is achieved through different techniques, as opposed to circling the same idea until it is beaten to death. “Race To The Tavern On The Green” (25) takes the previous cue and inverts it into a playful ride that is all-too short at thirty-four seconds. KENT rounds out the score with the string dominated “A Family In Antarctica” (27). A constant niggling feeling of restraint plagues the entirety of the final track. Never are the strings released, despite their obvious yearning to, and this results in an unfulfilling and ultimately unsatisfactory ending to the score.

This score was never going to break any trends or set foot in new worlds of musical discovery, but it suffers from a clear lack of ambition, merely retreading ideas and templates set by scores before it.

 

Rating: 5/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Radio Chat/ The Streets of New York 2:33  ***
2 The Horn of Africa 1:59  ***
3 Popper's Life/ Reginald and the Will 1:53  ***
4 A Live Penguin 1:41  **
5 To The Tavern and Van Gundy 2:35  ***
6 Captain Runs a Bath 1:17  **
7 Trying to Get Rid of Captain 1:05  **
8 A New Host of Penguins 3:24  ****
9 The Man from the Zoo 1:56  ***
10 Of Sleep and Soccer 3:29  ***
11 Penguin's Uncanny Tracking Ability 1:27  ***
12 Guggenheim Pandemonium 2:05  ****
13 What Advice Have You Got, Dad 0:55  **
14 Training the Birds 1:47  ***
15 Dresses, Daughters, and Eggs 1:54  **
16 Showing Amanda the Eggs 1:16  **
17 Skating Date 2:19  ***
18 Whoever has the Fish 0:32  **
19 Kent and His Camera Phone 1:24  ***
20 Eggs Hatching/ Captain Waits 2:33  ***
21 Popper's Gone Crazy 2:53  **
22 Life Without Penguins 2:11  **
23 The Lost Letter, and Popper has a Plan 2:40  **
24 The Escape from the Zoo 5:01  ***
25 A Race to the Tavern on the Green 0:34  ***
26 Challenge at the Tavern - Come to Popper! 4:03  ***
27 A Family in Antarctica 2:03  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 58 minutes  

 

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