My Favourite Movie Soundtrack: 'Dumb And Dumber'
Amongst the unending silliness of the Farrelly brothers' first film came some road trip anthems that could warm the coldest of hearts.
There was a time when movie films were exclusively made of music. Sure, there was a fat man in suspenders falling off a steel beam suspended from a crane (what’s that banana peel doing up there anyhow?!) but it was all set to whimsical vaudeville piano, interspersed with white writing on a decorative black background, having the character say something like ‘Golly gosh!’. Even when your talk films came along, they’d only be soundtracked by sad string sections as tall, moustachiod men scowled and left crying women in billowy dresses to die alone.
I’m not here to give you an oral history of movie soundtracks, because I know fuck all about it. I do, however, know a little bit about one of the greatest films ever made: Dumb And Dumber. The Farrelly brothers’ first movie and magnum opus, Dumb And Dumber, saw Harry and Lloyd, played by Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey respectively, travel to the bouji American ski resort of Aspen to seek out the beguiling Mary Swanson and return her briefcase to her.
On Harry and Lloyd’s cross country journey on the back of a kid’s scooter, they’re soundtracked by a perfect blend of ‘90s garage rock, psychedelic pop, country and western and Apache Indian’s "Boom Shack-A-Lak". In fact, a lot of the film’s best music didn’t make it onto the commercially released soundtrack. The Cowsills Beach Boys-esque "The Rain, The Park And Other Things", played in Lloyd’s dream as he returns the briefcase to Mary and doves flutter behind her, didn’t make it. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ "Red Right Hand", which accompanies Lloyd’s attempt to get a newspaper and subsequent mugging by an old lady also didn’t make it. Perhaps the most glaring omission is of Todd Rundgren, whose pretty ballad "Can We Still Be Friends" plays as Swanson’s husband (fucks sake) arrives after being held captive. Rundgren is also responsible for the movie’s original soundtrack, and created the highly emotional "Love Theme, a sprinkly-yet-epic tear inducer that plays as Lloyd meets Mary for the very first time.
There’s been a lot of Lloyd here, and a lot of what’s-not-even-on-the-soundtrack, which is, in itself, an omission. Little known momentary RCA signing The Lupins provided "Take", a punky alt rock road trip anthem for Harry and Lloyd’s statewide journey in their ’84 Sheepdog. Also a tarmac burner is Coventry indie pop act The Primitives’ "Crash". "Crash" packs the sort of breezy punch that the entire soundtrack has, and that’s why it wins over all. Dumb And Dumber is, while being furiously excellent in every facet, an incredibly silly and ultimately pointless film. It’s like Airplane but with a more solid plot and more subtlety. For every flagrant ‘Who’s got the foot long?’ there’s a little Freida Felcher anecdote, for every ‘I desperately want to make love to a school boy’ there’s a ‘Big gulps, huh? Alright!’ It’s an innocent film about two essentially very innocent, childish men, and the soundtrack reflects that. Jovial, nodding music that isn’t cheesy like that you’d find in a big budget adaptation of The Magic Roundabout, and isn’t over staying its welcome like so many film scores have before it, whether that be with too much OST violin cry-bait or too much OST big horn drear. I can see Harry and Lloyd listening to The Butthole Surfers, Dead Eye Dick, tapping the furry steering wheel going the wrong way over America, or Gigolo Aunts as their frozen urine binds them on their entry to Pitkin County, Colorado.
Alone, all these tracks are inconsequential. They’re great, undoubtedly, but ultimately forgettable. You won’t find them on your shuffle or in your playlists. It’s in the context of this film, a film that’s aged well for a silly ‘90s comedy, that they all work in unison, mildly serious feelings expressed in a largely pleasant and innocuous way (especially in the case of Pete Droge’s "If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself)"). It makes sense, then, that a movie which is mostly just pleasant and innocuous, yet somehow manages, through being greater than the sum of its parts, amazing, that the soundtrack should follow suit as well.
Next time Dumb And Dumber wanders listlessly onto ITV 3’s late night film slot, sit down and have an extra listen out for the best soundtrack ever made, and shed a tear, drying your eyes with $100 bills.
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