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Monster Mutt by Chris Walden (Review)

posted Feb 8, 2011, 10:33 AM by Kaya Savas

The plot of Monster Mutt is about a kid's dog who gets kidnapped by mad scientists for experimentation. The dog escapes back home but overnight he transforms from his original cuddly form to (gasp!) Monster Mutt! Yeah, I wasn't that thrilled when I read the synopsis either. The score is being labeled as Beethoven meets Honey, I Blew Up The Kids. The score is what you'd expect after reading that.

The music is light and fluffy. It carries no weight. It tries its hardest to be one of those scores from the 90's, but it really isn't. Listen to Dennis The Menace by Jerry Goldmsith and you can see that it is possible to be overly light but not to the point of being sickening. The score is way too frolicsome to be taken seriously. I never got a heartwarming feel nor felt enticed by any of the melodies. You might say "Well, it's a kid's movie so stop being so critical". As a child I absorbed all the music that defines my taste in scores today. Children are your biggest critics and you should never ever treat them as intellectually inferior. If you label a score a "kid's movie score" that means the music was composed in an effort to simplify and lighten it up for children. That's sort of what I'm hearing here. Children may be inexperienced at life but they are still human beings who can react emotionally.

I applaud Walden for taking an orchestral approach here, but when you go the light and saccharine approach you have to treat the music as if you were composing for yourself. It's the same way a chef always tastes their own food before serving it. If the music doesn't work on the maker it won't work for anyone else. I reviewed a score called Cool Dog shortly before this. That is an example of how to score a film of this nature.