In 2006, Elfman scored two movies. He was originally going to score one movie (Charlotte's Web) which some claimed he backed out of Spiderman 3 to score this instead.
If you've read my Spider-man 2 score cd analysis. Then you know why he backed out of Spider-man 3. But anyways he also wrote a replacement score for the silly Jack Black spanish wrestling indie comedy Nacho Libre directed by the guy who directed "Napoleon Dynamite". That score also had some issues when they decided to bring back Beck's (the original composer) original music in some scenes. Causing Elfman to remove his name from the credits so he wouldn't get any credit for the Beck tracks. The cues Elfman wrote (that made the film) were credited during the end credits. Nacho Libre only got a soundtrack release with one Elfman track. But hopefully someday an official cd release will see the light of day.
Back to Charlotte's Web. The film directed by the late Gary Winick and starring a young Dakota Fanning. With an all star cast performing voices for the farm animals. Everyone from Oprah, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Robert Redford, Steve Buscemi,etc. The trailers looked too silly and cheesy for my tastes. But the movie was actually decent and definitely something the kids and the whole family would enjoy. I don't know how it stacks up to the original animated movie of the same name. Since I haven't seen that since I was little. But I thought it (2006 film) was pretty good for a family movie.
Elfman's score is also great, but for some reason I don't listen to this very often. I don't know why. B/c it's a great score. It's just I don't have a desire to listen to it often. When I do listen to it however I enjoy it very much. It's not a dull score despite what haters will say about it. I guess it's one of those scores I have to be in the mood for. I do think the score might be underrated (even by me). The score is in the same vein as Big Fish, Sommersby with hints of Black Beauty. Which makes since b/c each takes place in a southern setting. And one of the films deals with an animal as main character just as Charlotte's Web does.
The "Main Title" is a very brisk and upbeat cue that's very celebratory and captures the southern atmosphere in the film. It almost feels like it's celebrating Wilbur's birth in the beginning. Kind of setting it up (with the music) during the titles as well as setting up the tone of the film. Which Elfman tends to do with most of his main titles to his scores.
"Lullaby/Escape" are two tracks put into one. "Lullaby" is, what else, a lullaby that's performed by Dakota Fanning herself. When she sings Wilbur to sleep. The lyrics are by Elfman. It plays the main theme (Idk if it's Wibur's or Charlotte's or maybe both) which also sounds very similar to Elfman's Corpse Bride main theme. It's a very amiable track. "Escape" deals with Wilbur trying to escape the farm as Fanning's character leaves for school. It's very playful and really captures Wilbur's actions as it's trying to escape. Both great cues.
"The Plan Begins" which is easily the best track on the album for me at least. It's also a cue that you would expect from Elfman in a good way. It begins with another recurring theme or motif. And now that I think of it that could be Wilbur's theme or one of his themes. It even plays towards the end of the "Main Title" cue. This cue plays when Charlotte creates the letters (with her webbing) that reads "Some Pig". It starts off slow and then gets busy (as Charlotte does in this scene) as the main theme kicks in and builds and builds and builds. It becomes magical as the chorus comes in. Signifying what Charlotte's doing is magical. Afterall being able to create words with webbing is pretty amazing for an actual spider to do. The last few seconds of the cue really captures that "end of hard days work" feel that Charlotte must be feeling. And ending it with that southern sound really signifies the next morning or day has begun. It's a very inspirational track kind of showing that you can do anything once you put your mind to it. That's what I got from it anyway.
"The Word Spreads" is the track that I guess takes place with the family who owns the farm reacting to the "Some Pig" webbing and telling some of the town's people about it. I've only had a real good look at the movie once. The reason I posted this track b/c of how calm, pleasant and comfortable it is. It really captures the tone and mood of the town reacting to the webbing. The main theme is very peaceful and at ease as well.
"Humble" is another touching and magical track with Charlotte webbing her next word "Humble". It's another track showing Elfman's craftsmanship. This track goes through different moods from touching, to playful, to gentle, to magical, to modest, and back to magical again. It's why I enjoy Elfman's music.
There were three more tracks I wanted to post. But I couldn't find 'em on YT. I guess they either got blocked, deleted, or whoever didn't post 'em.
'Terrific" is another track that starts off busy as the family finds Charlotte's last webbing word "terrific". It's another restrained and happy track that ends magical but sad b/c this is Charlotte's final web. At the same time Charlotte's also pregnant and dying. So it ends on a sad note.
"Farewell Charlotte" is a very emotional and touching track that deals with Wilbur saying goodbye to Charlotte as she dies. Elfman really makes me feel sympathy (with his music) for a spider (which ain't easy to do) especially for what she did for Wilbur to keep him alive. What's sad is that after saving Wilbur from becoming a holiday dinner she dies shortly after. Not being able to relish what she did. It really tugs the heartstrings, imo. I wish I could post this track. It's really good and very, very touching.
The last track by Elfman "Wilbur's homecoming" is a nice 8 minute track . That wraps up the score and film perfectly. If only I could find this track on YT b/c I can't describe how excellent this track really is. The best way I can describe it is that the same amount of emotion, energy, and effort Elfman put in for "Finale" to Big Fish. Is about the same amount of emotion, effort, and energy he put in for"Wilbur's Homecoming". I'm not saying he ripped off his Big Fish track "Finale". I'm just saying "Wilbur's Homecoming"almost rivals "Finale" from BF.
There were some other tracks that I didn't post that were great as well. But I don't want to drag this out. So overall Charlotte's Web is another great score by Elfman that even I overlook at times. So yeah I think it's quite underrated. Some might get turned off by how peachy, pleasant, and upbeat it is. But if you like Elfman's Sommersby, Black Beauty, and Big Fish scores. You should be able to enjoy this. You don't get to hear that side of Elfman that often. It might be one of those scores where you might have to be in the mood for. But it does put you in a good mood after you finish listening to it. At least for me anyway.