A Track by Track Analysis of the Good Will Hunting Promo

Commentary by Josh James

The Promotional Soundtrack to Good Will Hunting was released shortly after the release of the film and helped Danny earn his Oscar nomination that year. (All composers circulate promos. It's a normal thing) A few people got their hands on it, copies were made, and BOOM!- a lot of die-hard fans (some willing to pay exuberant amounts of money) got to hear this stunning score. I've been offered the promo by some people but in the past I haven't accepted CD-Rs. (I've recently changed my mind about that! I'll accept free material now! ;)) Josh James has written a nice track-by-track commentary. I've added realaudio samples below to complement his words. Remember, you need a Realaudio G2 player to hear the samples!



Track Listing
Thanks to Vinicius Calvitti and SFT for the track titles and times!

1. Main Title (2:42)
2. Genie Mopper (0:35)
3. First Calculation (1:08)
4. Theorem (0:41)
5. Mystery Math (2:27)
6. Them Apples (0:56) * Not contained in the picture
7. Jail (1:12)
8. Staring Contest (0:50)
9. Time's Up (1:14)
10. Oliver Twist (1:57)
11. Retainer (0:57)
12. Tell You Something (0:48)
13. Any Port (1:24)
14. Whose Fault (2:34)
15. Weepy Donuts (3:50)
16. "Miss Misery" by Elliot Smith (3:11)

Total running time: (26:56)



Track by Track Analysis

1.Main Title (2:43) This track is a nice beginning to the GWH score, albeit a short one. It's the first of the two tracks included on the GWH soundtrack. I have to admit this piece took me awhile to really admire. The anchor that kept me going though was the motif presented by the whistle, which, seems an obvious poke at James Horner's sad little ditty for "Titanic," although I have no way of knowing whether or not it was intended to be. Could Elfman have heard the Titanic score yet? I'm not sure about the timing. Elfman's style still shines through with his always remarkable choral passages. This is a track I enjoy more each time I hear it; the acoustic guitar strumming lends a more modern sound to the orchestra/choral remnants we're used to. And while experienced Elfman fans will recognize some stylistic similarities to Elfman's rare sentimental scores (i.e. Black Beauty, Sommersby), the larger portion of this score doesn't exude "Elfman." While this track is no Black Beauty introduction, it certainly fills the bill for the film and the CD.

2. Genie Mopper (0:37) More acoustic guitar strumming, piano and flute noodling, and French horn. There's not much more than can be said for a 37 second cue. There aren't any major themes presented.

3. First Calculation (1:09) The piano motif makes a nice entrance in this track, backed by more French horn. It's an understated, simple idea, but it grows on you after a few listens. For most people though, it wouldn't be any more than something you could have playing while in the background.

4. Theorem (0:43) The whistle theme reappears briefly along with more tinkling piano tinklings and very high pitched string parts. The track then fades away (as do most tracks on the GWH promo).

5. Mystery Math (2:26) This track is mostly a continuation of the sound we've heard already. There's, once again, nothing striking to discuss, although the oboe solos are a beautiful addition, along with some chime licks and various tiny percussion parts. Toward the end of the track, there's a lovely crescendo in full Elfman tradition.

6. Them Apples (0:57) Short, but one of my favorite tracks from the promo. The whistle theme appears at the beginning, but with a different backdrop than in the Main Title. The same instruments are present, but the chord changes seems slightly altered to make it more cheerful and uplifting. But alas, only for a few seconds. I could have used more...a lot more.

7. Jail (1:13) Begins with piano and orchestra, like most tracks. The main theme reappears in an altered way, but trails away quickly.

8. Staring Contest (0:51) Another brief cue that begins and ends without any fanfare whatsoever. Perhaps the most quiet track on the CD.

9. Time's Up (1:15) This track highlights the chorus and adds a nice break to the "tinkling" tracks. The tinkling is present, but not in full force. Soon, the chorus starts its ethereal melody. It isn't memorable, but it's relaxing to listen to. The piano at the end reminds me a little of one that occurs in "Instinct."

10. Oliver Twist (2:00) Orchestra takes over again, with some acoustic guitar complimenting it. The French horn gets the main theme this time around. It's woven in very delicately, which makes for a soothing effect.

11. Retainer (0:58) A little change of pace. The main theme is tossed around in a slightly faster tempo, which is, by all means, a desirable thing after sitting through this CD.

12. Tell You Something (0:50) This is a pleasant piece that gives a Celtic feel to the themes. Still nothing too exciting.

13. Any Port (1:26) A few nice changes decorate this short piece. Another whistle cameo as well. This one peters out like a whisper.

14. Whose Fault (2:36) This track starts almost identical to the Main Title but goes into a piano trance-like state. A choral crescendo occurs about halfway through that reminds me of "Heaven" from "The Frighteners" and I'm not sure why...

15. Weepy Donuts (3:51) This is the second cue to be included on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack release. It's worthy of its competitor (Main Title) since the subtle orchestra themes, the whistle motif, and chorus all make their appearances. The "finale" if you can call it one is most probably the highlight of the CD. It caps off a relaxing, but at times slow-moving score, that never really captures attention like Black Beauty and Sommersby. I'm not sure if a full release of this score is needed. Enthusiasts will find things to love about it and, perhaps, some major cues were not included in the promo. But, since this is the biggest collection of music released from GWH, I really have nothing more to go on. The bottom line, I suppose, is that GWH is an easy-listening experience that shouldn't be expected to knock anyone off their feet (more likely put them to sleep), but the music serves its purpose well and when that main theme hits finally in the last minute of Weepy Donuts, you feel gratified. I wouldn't spend too much money for the promo unless you're extremely HARD-CORE. It is, however, more listenable than A Simple Plan. Well, that's about it for me. These are my comments...eat the seeds or spit them out. You are free.

Rating: * *