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Comments about the soundtrack for Hercules (Alan Menken)

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A Polite Disagreement
• Posted by: Paul Henry S.   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Thursday, August 7, 2008, at 9:45 p.m.
• IP Address:

Disney animated features are formulaic, no doubt about it, but the lambasting that "Hercules" receives here is unfounded.

The critic, whose identity is unknown (unlike we comment writers who must at least give a valid email address), writes "The Disney musicals were popular because they were serious enough to keep adults interested while also containing one or two silly comedy songs to entertain the kids". But he or she does not substantiate this claim, and if you look and listen to the Disney features up to this point, I don't think you can seriously consider it to be true.

The critic then goes on to state: "For Hercules, Disney and Menken flipped it around so that the entire film was a comedy routine and one token serious ballad was included to tie the film in with the basic identity of its franchise." Sorry, not true. What makes the ballad "token" I do not know, but there is also the song, "I Won't Say I'm in Love". Definitely not a "silly comedy song".

The critic's labeling of the songs as "weak" is a complete mystery to me. Firstly, he makes no mention of the lyricist. This is not a "Menken" offering. The lyrics, which are at times moving, witty, wry, and always clever, are by David Zippel, not mentioned once in the article.

As to his criticism of the "misplaced style of vocals", this is just plain nonsense. The stylistic choices in "Hercules" are deliberate, and as far as I'm concerned, work beautifully. Now, this movie is no "Beauty And The Beast", where a tight consistency of the score was a deliberate and effective choice. No, "Hercules" reminds me of an old musical called "The Boys From Syracuse", by Rodgers and Hart which was a musical based on Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors" and was a period piece with a very tongue-in-cheek New York sensibility about it. In "Hercules", every ancient Greek personality, god, goddess, chorus, institution, etc. is given it's updated twist, and is, for the most part, successful.

"Hercules" is not the best thing Disney's ever done, but it is far from the worst, and should be much higher on the list of recommended features than simply for "die hard" fans. And I haven't even mentioned the wonderful visual design of the movie, but then, neither did the anonymous critic.

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