"Welcome To The Jungle"
Music By Karl Pruesser
MovieScore Media/Kronos Records
19 Tracks/Disc Time: 39:43
Goofy, spoof comedies are almost too common nowdays with the likes of the "Scary Movie" franchise and most recently, "Haunted House" comedy which was a take off on the "Paranormal Activities" films. The latest Universal Pictures comedy, "Welcome To The Jungle" is pretty much in the same vein as those films. The film stars "The O.C.'s" Adam Brody as part of a group of company workers that are taken on an company retreat to a remote tropical island so that they are given a lesson in working together as a unit, but also build up confidence and personal fortitude thanks to the whacked out guru named Storm (Jean-Claude Van Damme, YES! That Jean-Claude Van Damme). Soon it becomes a battle of wills inspired by "Lord Of The Flies" no less, to see who not only survives the island but also plan a proper escape. The film was recently released on Blu-Ray and DVD by Universal.
Comedy scores are very tricky to write and alot of them become second banana to pop or rock songs for the most part. Yet there were a few composers who really mastered the genre like the late Elmer Bernstein, David Newman and more recently, Theodore Shapiro who have made the most of their opportunities with in the genre with great success. Enter Karl Pruesser who had the somewhat difficult task to combine the elements of comedy, but also the setting and the somewhat serious nature of the dark elements of the film. Pruesser tried to combine elements of the most bombastic action scores and infuse alot of comedic elements to it and starting with the opening track "Welcome To The Jungle (Main Title)", he immediately establishes the mood with a chanting chorus and rumbling exotic percussion establishing the tropical locale of the film along with the main theme.
The comic antics begin with goofy precision in tracks such as "He's Very, Very Bright", "Razzle Goes The Dazzle/Brenda", "Spying On Phil's Camp" and "Certified Teamwork Instructor" which evoke and channel the usual comedic elements from other scores while keeping somewhat of a straight musical face with "Certified Teamwork Instructor" establishing a more serious tone that would lead to some of the score's best material inspired tracks such as "Phil Takes Over / Chaos", "Let's Take A Walk", "Stealing The Radio", "Bow Before My Mighty Loin", "The Pit Of Destiny", and "Rescue" that do feature some very diverse material that does feature touches of comedy and stretches it out into creating some joyful and playfully bombastic action material that gives the score a leg up on just being a routine comedy score. The percussion section also really gets a real serious workout which does keep you interested throughout the scores' breezy running time.
MovieScore Media/Kronos Records album is a nice release of this comedy score which is very different and unique for what it is and functions exceptionally well within the context of the film. The score outside it might be a hit and miss with fans and it's generally because comedy scores don't really have a sustained energy that you need to have a great album of its' own and there have been very rare exceptions that these albums truly have worked. The score to "Three Amigos" definitely comes to mind in this instance. Pruesser definitely does a good job with what he has to work with and succeeds on that level. He also displays that he's having fun with the material he's given with as well and that's why the music does work, but as with all comedy scores, a little can go a long way and sometimes too much. In this case, "Welcome To The Jungle" is a fair, solid comedy score that is original and unique given the subject and I doubt this is the last time that we'll hear Karl Pruesser's name that's for sure. A cheerful, but marginal thumbs up.