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Review by Tim Perrine - Perceiving film music as a viable artform, it's difficult for many of us to grasp this new concept popularized by Media Ventures of "composition by committee." Our favorites like Korngold, Rosza, Herrmann, Goldsmith, or Williams never (or hardly ever) collaborated with other composers. So, on the surface, it seems that scores written by large groups of people are inferior products. However, as seen with CHICKEN RUN and HANNIBAL and now with SPY KIDS, this couldn't be further from truth. (Of course, one could argue that there's still plenty of examples of musical trainwrecks out there composed by groups of musicians) Nine (9!) composers plus the group Los Lobos worked on SPY KIDS. And, as the liner notes dictate, they all worked together in different combinations on different cues. Danny Elfman is credited with coming up with the Spy Kids theme and the "Floop's Song" that is performed in the film. There's a few "Elfman only" cues, but most of the time he's assisted by John Debney. Hans Zimmer helped director Robert Rodriguez assemble some of his Media Ventures men for the score as well. Gavin Greenaway, guitarist Heitor Pereira, and Harry Gregson-Williams contribute material ("The Family Theme" is credited to Gregson-Williams). Composer and orchestrator Chris Boardman also worked on the film, adapting some of Elfman's material (namely the Floop song) for a couple of cues. Finally, the director himself- Robert Rodriguez, his brother Marcel, David Garza, and Los Lobos contributed. That's pretty insane, but oddly enough, it works.

The score is very much like a latin James Bond score. There's lots of acoustic guitar and Spanish musical idioms mixed with that classic spy sound. Thankfully for us, the score never panders to the kiddies and rarely enters into that obnoxious mickey-mousing territory that is common in scores for children's features. That's not to say that the score isn't bright or colorful, because it's exactly that. It stays very upbeat and lively for almost its entire running time.

The highlight of the score surprisingly doesn't come from Elfman, Debney, or Gregson-Williams, but from Robert Rodriguez himself. Track 3, "Spy Wedding" for the flashback sequence at the beginning of the film is the "worth-the-price-of-the-CD" track on the album. Apparently Rodriguez took some of Los Lobos work and wrote amazing choral and orchestra parts to augment their sound. It's an incredible track, and proof that Rodriguez is quite a multi-talented artist.

Elfman's "Floop's Song (Cruel World)" is pretty good. It sounds very much like his NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and LITTLE DEMONS (un-produced musical) work with that grandiose whimsical sound. However, it would be so much better if only it were twice as long. 58 seconds is not enough. Alan Cumming does a superb job performing the song (he even sounds a little bit like Danny). If only they could've spent a couple more million (the films budget was a modest $36 million) and extended the sequence in the film by another minute or two. Elfman also pulls out some amazing cues that should make all of his fans salivate. "Buddy Pack Escape" is another highlight of the score with its fast brass passages, tubular bells, and that manic Elfman-brand action that harks back to his BATMAN days.

The other composers all do fine work as well. Gavin Greenaway does a great job with "Kids Escape House" (Note to Hans Zimmer: it's time for him to get his own film to score all by himself.) I also enjoyed Chris Boardman's arrangement of Elfman's Floop material in "Floop's Castle."

The only real problem with this album is that it's way too short. The score portion is just a shade under 30 minutes. By the time that the lame pop song at the end came on (obviously it was written for the 12 year olds who might get this album), I was still craving much more score. Nonetheless, I'm happy that at least there is a score release. SPY KIDS is still a great album for film score fans, despite the juvenile nature of the film. I recommend it to all film music fans (especially if you like acoustic guitar or fast-paced spy music.) if you aren't embarrassed enough to approach the checkout girl at your local music store with a copy in hand. Of course, that's what Amazon.com is for, right? - Review by Tim Perrine (April 22, 2001) from Cinemusic.net



"I never thought making a children's film would be so challenging! The goal was to make the coolest Spy Action Music this side of BOND, with a childlike innocence, freedom, and life. Here's a quick sketh of the musical journey; Danny Elfman composed "Floop's Song" for Alan Cumming to perfom before we began production. Chris Boardman then took the song and used it as inspiration to compose new music for the Floop and Juni characters. Once the movie was cut, I took it to Hans Zimmer, who assembled Harry Gregson-Williams, Gavin Greenaway and Heitor Pereira to hammer out a great score. Additionally, my old pals Los Lobos joined the party for "Spy Wedding" where I got to write orchestral parts over their amazing acoustic guitar work. They then re-recorded a demo I had whipped up of "Oye Como Spy" with David Garza back in Austin. Danny Elfman was able to return to complete the Spy Kids theme which John Debney then orchestrated and arranged for the picture. While he was at it, Debney also wrote some wonderful additional music, and added orchestration to "Oye Como Spy." Even my brother Marcel got in on the act, helping out to write the Robot Theme. Creating this score was an intensely creative adventure and I want to thank all these great composers for coming together to make this a truly unique and multi-textured score. So slip on some shades and groove to the tunes of Spy Kids. You won't believe your ears!" - Robert Rodriguez, March 2001.

Tracklist with credits:

01. Cortez Family (1:38)
      Composed by Gavin Greenaway, Heitor Pereira and Harry Gregson-Williams
02. My Parents Are Spies (2:07)
      Composed by Danny Elfman
03. Spy Wedding (2:09)
      Composed by Los Lobos, Robert Rodriguez
04. Spy Kids Demonstration (1:03)
      Composed by John Debney, Robert Rodriguez and Marcel Rodriguez
05. Parents On A Mission (1:15)
      Composed by John Debney, Danny Elfman, Gavin Greenaway and Heitor Pereira
06. Kids Escape House (3:12)
      Composed by Gavin Greenaway and Heitor Pereira
07. Pod Chase (1:37)
      Composed by John Debney, Danny Elfman and Harry Gregson-Williams
08. The Safehouse (0:45)
      Composed by John Debney and Danny Elfman
09. The Third Brain (0:58)
      Composed by John Debney, Robert Rodriguez and Marcel Rodriguez
10. Buddy Pack Escape (1:37)
      Composed by Danny Elfman
11. Oye Como Spy (2:57)
      Composed by David Garza, Robert Rodriguez, Performed by Los Lobos
12. Floop's Song (Cruel World) (0:58)
      Words and Music by Danny Elfman, Performed by Alan Cumming
13. Spy Go Round (2:10)
      Composed by Gavin Greenaway and Heitor Pereira
14. Minion (1:02)
      Composed by Chris Boardman, Gavin Greenaway, Heitor Pereira and Robert Rodriguez
15. Sneaking Around Machete's (0:34)
      Composed by Danny Elfman
16. The Spy Plane (1:27)
      Composed by John Debney and Danny Elfman
17. Floop's Castle (1:27)
      Composed by Chris Boardman
18. Final Family Theme (1:40)
      Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams
19. Spy Kids (Save The World) (2:20)
      Performed and Arranged by Fonda

Spy Kids (2001)
With Music Composed by Danny Elfman
Orchestrations by John Debney, Bruce Fowler, Ladd McIntosh, Don Nemitz
Recorded and Mixed by Alan Meyerson, John Kurlander
Album Produced by Robert Rodriguez

Label (Catalogue): Chapter III Records, (CH 30002-2)
Availability: Out of print
Purchasing options: Check secondary market at Amazon.com

Back to filmography index
Click for enlarged CD artwork
Click cover to enlarge
01. Cortez Family (1:38)
02. My Parents Are Spies (2:07)
03. Spy Wedding (2:09)
04. Spy Kids Demonstration (1:03)
05. Parents On A Mission (1:15)
06. Kids Escape House (3:12)
07. Pod Chase (1:37)
08. The Safehouse (0:45)
09. The Third Brain (0:58)
10. Buddy Pack Escape (1:37)
11. Oye Como Spy (2:57)
12. Floop's Song (Cruel World) (0:58)
13. Spy Go Round (2:10)
14. Minion (1:02)
15. Sneaking Around Machete's (0:34)
16. The Spy Plane (1:27)
17. Floop's Castle (1:27)
18. Final Family Theme (1:40)
19. Spy Kids (Save The World) (2:20)
      Performed by Fonda

Danny Elfman's music at:
Amazon.com






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