Reviews - Midnight Run

Review by the Groovy Yak

Midnight Run is Danny Elfman's oddball score. Of his 13+ years in the film music industry, he's never composed a score like this one. (Hot to Trot comes close, I believe.) There's not a single orchestral instrument to be found in this score, and while Elfman's colleagues and critics may not like that, I find it to be quite an enjoyable and inventive score.
Midnight Run is composed of music for a small band. Imagine your favorite country/western group (if you have one!) minus a lead singer, throw in some blues, zydeco and gospel elements, add a touch of saxes and brass, and you basically have the score to this movie. It's great, though. It's easy to tell that this type of music is much easier for Elfman to work with than orchestral- it's very Boingo-ish, and at this time Elfman was much more skilled as the leader of Oingo Boingo than as a film composer. (That was all going to change the next year when Elfman struck gold with Batman.)
The main titles is the best part of the score. I'm sure that most people agree with me too, as the main titles have been used in countless trailers and such. It's an enjoyable and lively piece that has sort of gives the message of "wild and fun times." As a matter of fact, the entire score gives us that message. It's all quite upbeat. And that really is the score's only real flaw. While each track is different from the other tracks, Elfman music is monotonous in the sense that each track paints the same picture of the good guys outwitting the bad guys in a southern setting. Of course that's not really a limitation of Elfman's writing as much as it is the nature of the ensemble. How can a country/western band portray anything but "fun" music? However, there is one track that is slightly different from the tone of the rest. "The Confrontation" is slightly darker than the rest of the score. You get a slight sense of angst there. But, after that track is over, we're back into the toe-tapping section.
Midnight Run is essentially a fun ride. While it may not have the power of Batman or the macabre of Beetlejuice, it reminds Elfman's film score fans where the man's root are at. His skill with popular music is just as great as his skill with orchestral and electronic music- and that's a talent that most composers should be jealous of.
Rating: * * *

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