Going Ape! Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score Going Ape! by Elmer Bernstein.
At a glance:
54 minutes of score
Geek Score: 84.3
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 19.4
Album Excellence: 36%
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Going Ape! is an early 80s comedy written and directed by Jeremy Joe Kronsberg starring Tony Danza, Danny DeVito and Jessica Walter. Going Ape! is the story of Foster Sabatini played by Tony Danza who is the black sheep of the family and the son of circus king Max Sabatini. Foster decided to get out of the circus business early and do his own thing and possibly as a practical joke, when Max dies, he gives Foster his three “most prized possessions” which are three orangutans, Rusty, Tiga and Popi along with five million dollars. However, if he gives them away or any of the orangutans die over the next three years, the money will go to the zoo. As an “extra bonus” he gets Lazlo played by Danny DeVito, a trusted circus man. People at the zoo gets wind of this and of course they want the five million dollars so they do everything in their power to get their hands on the money including hiring two mafia goons Joe and “Bad Habit” to make sure Foster and his orangutans has an unfortunate “accident”. Elmer Bernstein having just scored Animal House and Airplane! was given the chance for another comedy and I’ve been a fan of Bernstein 80s comedy scores for a long time, but I’ve never heard this so this should be a lot of fun.
We open with a messy circus fanfare in ‘Circus – Love Max’, totally crazy pants and zany, but fun. At 1:06 the music changes into a very magical humming with a swirling theme flying in the background. Very dreamy, dark and mysterious. Some say it reminds them of Danny Elfman’s Tim Burton years, and maybe it does. Certainly great in any case. ‘Meet The Apes’ is more comedy, but also quite unique. It includes a male voice used as an instrument and then you have the jazzy feel over the whole cue. The cue is a bit disjointed, but it’s fun I have to admit. Jazz and Bernstein goes hand in hand and that’s why I’m happy to find out that the comedy cues here are very jazzy indeed like the quirky and zany ‘Conspirators’. I love the whispering hi-hat in the background. It’s certainly a varied score with lots of genres and changes, even mid-cue. The theme heard throughout these cues is a nice one, but it’s covered up with comedy at the moment, maybe particularly so in ‘Duck Soup’. ‘Cyrano’ is a more classical sounding cue, a very dramatic and bold cue, kind of sounding like kings and queens AKA royal music from the ages. Cues like ‘Gurney – Zelda’, ‘Gas’ and ‘Kidnap – Escape’ are a bit too disjointed I feel. The music doesn’t have any “flow” to it and so I fell I’m left with an incomplete experience.
The “big” cue on this score is ‘Chase Is On’ and what’s more fun than chasing apes or apes chasing? Well the cue is fun for the most part and an interesting thing to note is the “Ride Of The Valkyries” (Wagner) homage at 1:50 before shifting into the main theme around 3 minutes in, although in “slow” mode. I love the part from 5:24 when a kind of circus flair is added to dramatic music. ‘End Shot’ has a nice spy thriller-ish downwards bass going on for the first 45 seconds. ‘Rescue’ also toys with Wagner’s “Ride Of The Valkyries” a bit in the beginning. There’s very heroic theme at 24 seconds in, unlike anything I’ve heard so far. I like it. At 1:10 the circus theme from the opening cue is back. For me it’s one of the best moments of the score. This is the end of the official score, but there are extras!
And for the extras, Intrada have given us ‘Circus’ and ‘From Beyond’ as separate cues and that’s a pretty great deal if you ask me. It also features the cool ‘It Ain’t Who’s Right, It’s What’s Right’ in an instrumental version. ‘Bittersweet’ the cool rock/blues-y track gets an instrumental version as well. Elmer Bernstein also adapts Nino Rota’s amazing ‘Love Theme From The Godfather’ which is on the CD as an extra plus the amazing accordion version. I’m also delighted with an alternative version o’ To Hospital’ which is a lot better. I love the opening strings taken right out of Psycho and the music doesn’t feel disjointed, but a flowing thriller cue. The bluegrass music in ‘One Way Street’ is also there in full instrumental form.
Going Ape! Is indeed a fun ride. There were few bumps in the road, but it’s a classic Elmer Bernstein comedy score that needs to be in your collection if you are a Bernstein fan or an early 80s comedy score fan. It has all the bells and whistles and then some. It’s quite a varied score mixing a number of genres and I applaud Intrada for getting this out there
1. Circus – Love Max
19. From Beyond
21. It Ain’t Who’s Right, It’s What’s Right
26. Love Theme From The Godfather (Nino Rota)
27. To Hospital
31. Love Theme From The Godfather (Accordion)