15 Tracks/Disc Time: 32:29
Also Contains "Can't Buy Me Love"
Music By Robert Folk
Intrada Special Collection Vol. 251
29 Tracks/Disc Time: 60:08
"Paradise" Score Portion Grade: B
In the early 1990's, dramas that featured a rather uplifting theme in the face of sadness and tragedy were pretty much dominated the female viewing audience and it had pretty much started with the hits "Steel Magnolias" and "Working Girl" a few years earlier along with the Oscar Winning "Driving Miss Daisy". The film "Paradise" was one such film along with another pair of memorable tear-jerkers in "The Prince of Tides" and "My Girl", that continued this trend without the success that those two films really enjoyed. The film was written and directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue, who had written a guilty pleasure of mine sadly not on DVD or Blu-Ray (yet!), "The Buddy System" starring Oscar winners Richard Dreyfuss and Susan Sarandon along with future "Stand By Me" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation" star Wil Wheaton as well as the Goldie Hawn thriller "Deceived", "Beaches" and "White Oleander". While those films have elements of friction between the two main protagonists, this film basically has the same formula and works in a more subtle way when it comes to the subject of loss and regaining lost love. The film revolves around a married couple, Lily and Ben Reed (Melanie Griffith, "Working Girl" and Don Johnson "Miami Vice" who were married at the time) who have been suffering via a family tragedy after the heartwrenching loss of their infant son. Seemingly destined to struggle with this loss, a bit of a miracle happens to them when a young boy named Willard Young ("Lord Of The Rings" star Elijah Wood) is sent to stay with them for the summer. As the summer progresses, Lily and Ben soon start to come to terms with their lives through the joy that this young boy has bring to them as if he was their own. Willard while bringing joy and innocence to the Reed's, he has his own bit of fun in the form of a girl named Billie Pike ("American Beauty" and "Ghost World" star Thora Birch) with whom start to share an innocent love for. By the end of the film, love that has been lost is now regained for Lily and Ben while new love has blossomed for Billie and Willard.
Despite positive reviews all around, the film wasn't the success Disney had hoped but despite this everything about the film was a positive experience. When it came to the film's score, a composer who's deft grace to write memorable and melodic music was sorely needed to bring a balance to both the tragedy of the past and the innocence of youth that would push the film to a higher plane. Now enter the then ever busy composer, David Newman who after working as a regular session musician leading to becoming an orchestrator was really rising to the top of the A-list composers list in Hollywood. 1991 alone saw Newman compose the music for no less than eight films including along with this one with the likes of "Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead", "The Marrying Man", Rover Dangerfield", "Talent For The Game", "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey", "Other People's Money" and "The Runestone" apart of his major musical breakout for the year.
The film score for this film is very subtle and melodic. It's one of those scores that will remind most of David's father, Alfred who was essentially the master when it comes to melodramatic films such as this one. Sweeping lush themes abound during its' short running time with Newman's familiar style and orchestration starting with the beautiful and stunning opening "The Bus Trip (Main Title)" with it's lushness and sweet playfulness in the instrumentation with flutes, keyboard and woodwinds and sugary pastorial string work. Newman creates and paints a world based around both the tragic events that have held back the love that's been lost for Ben and Lily not through anguished musical strains but a more subtle, delicate approach that leaves hope for that love the be rekindled in the tracks "Lily's Sadness" and "The Graveyard". The flipside is the hope that Wiliard brings to both Ben and Lily displayed with energy and passion with Newman introducing a more uplifting tone in the tracks "Fishing", "Quiet Fishing", and "Lily And Willard" and also underscores the budding love between Billie and Willard in "Billie And Willard", "You're My Best Friend", and "Best Friends". There are some moments of tension in the score when Willard disappears during the film's few moments that are dramatic in "Looking For Willard" and "Willard Is Found" and resolves the film with nice touches as Newman reprises the lovely material of the score for the heartwarming "Goodbye" and a nice resolution in "End Titles."
Intrada Records' special release of this lovely score is one that fills one of the many, many holes in the great discography of David Newman and this is a score that really deserves a little more attention that has gotten or let alone his entire body of work. The lush and lyrical music that fills this score and half the portion of this CD, is one that stays with you and is a very pleasant listen. The score is really one of those mini gems that is heartwarming, romantic and a full bodied work full of sweep and harmony. I had seen the film and barely remembered this score even after listening to it once again a decade ago and having reviewed this album, this is a sparkling little score that I have to admit I completely overlooked and in discovering it again, it has stayed a lot longer and with better results all around. A very warm thumbs up!