Even with Reese Witherspoon only stepping in as a co-star and producer of the quirky love story Penelope, the soundtrack still has her cutesy persona all over it. From the white and purple cover design to the overtly sentimental material on the disc, Witherspoon-ites everywhere are likely to swoon over the light, lovable fare on display here. This album is aimed at a core audience of listeners and never deviates from that course. Anyone that doesn’t feel included in the Witherspoon clique, should take this as a hint to steer clear.
Opening with two almost Disney-esque instrumentals written and performed by Joby Talbot (“The Story of the Curse – Parts 1 and 2″), there’s a bit of intrigueÂ but too much harp and high-noted xylophone to transcend the made-for-kids vibe. Six of Talbot’s worksÂ are interspersed throughout the album (with “The Wedding” standing out as the most enjoyable with its mix of tense energy and building excitement), providing a nice reprieve from theÂ heavily emotive lyricsÂ in tunes like Schuyler Fisk & Dave Bassett’sÂ ”Waking Life” and Paper Moon’s “String of Blinking Lights.”
There are a few songs that help the album maintain a sense of pleasantness without toppling completely into over-the-top sentiment. DeVotchKa’s hip indie-laced “Queen of the Surface Streets” captures the off-beat vibe the film was likely going for and “Hoppipolla” performed by Wenzel Templeton and Robert Pegg, is a beautiful instrumental that manages to express a sort of blissfull exuberance without feeling trite or overdone.
The album doesn’t really reach it’s emotional pinnacle though, until weÂ get toÂ the final song, James Greenspun’s very literal (considering the subject matter of the film) “Your Disguise,” where Greenspun gently croons “Don’t hide your face, you can not erase / the pain that stays in your eyes.” Yikes. There’s a good message to be delievered here, but it might have been better receivedÂ with a subtleÂ treatment rather than a painfully literal pronouncement.
Zach’s Rating: C
Perfect For: Cute cheesiness is just cute to you
Stay Away if: Cute cheesiness is just cheesiness to you
Buy this on Itunes: “Hoppopolla” – Wenzel Templeton & Robert Pegg
To purchaseÂ Penelope: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, visit Amazon