Like so many other movies of its day, 1987’s *batteries not included basks in the soothing glow of all things Spielberg. Showcasing a family of flying saucers, designed by Industrial Light and Magic as miniature versions of the mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), the movie is at its core a fable about how a neighborhood is only as good as the sense of community that runs through it. The screenplay, co-authored by Brad Bird and bearing the unmistakable stamp of executive producer Steven Spielberg, zooms in on one tenement in particular, whose ground floor is taken up by Riley’s Place. Back in the forties, it was a lively diner in a bustling inner-city neighborhood. Forty-odd years later, it is dilapidated and scheduled to be bulldozed into a venue for high-rises and office buildings. The last people taking a stand against the ruthless developer Lacey are the tenants of a lone brownstone: Frank Riley (Hume Cronyn), the irascible cafe owner, his good-spirited but slightly gaga wife Faye (Jessica Tandy), Marisa (Elizabeth Peña), a pregnant Latino woman, Mason (Dennis Boutsikaris), a down-on-his-luck artist, and Harry Noble (Frank McRae), a reclusive one-time boxing champ with an earnest desire to restore the tile floors in the hallway. Kudos to the screenwriters for giving each of the protagonists a flaw that needs to be fixed and thus the potential for the characters to evolve and be healed. (Senile Faye’s ramblings, especially, end up bringing Mason and Marisa together but her condition keeps her from coming to grips with the death of her son Bobby.) At the eve of their eviction, Riley’s Place is given a sound thrashing by Carlos (Michael Carmine) and two other goons hired by Lacey to chase the last stubborn tenants away. With the last hope of eking out any kind of existence now seemingly lost, Frank sits down one evening and whispers: “Somebody, anybody, please help us.” And lo and behold, in whisk the most unlikely of angels, a couple – a male and a female, that is – of flying saucers with the power to mend broken objects and lift battered spirits. However, they need the juice from power outlets because they come “batteries not included”. Dubbed “the fixers” and “the little guys”, the saucers side with the beleaguered tenants in their quest to save their home and, in the process, develop a sense of community that is ultimately a good deal more healing than a few passing extraterrestrials. At one point, Carlos is puzzled by the strange creatures and muses: “Something’s helping them. Something’s bringing them together.” Healing on a personal and on a community level is the movie’s central theme, and it is realized through an array of somewhat obvious yet generally effective visual and dramatic metaphors such as urban decay, Alzheimer’s and a taciturn simpleton fixing the tile floor.
Further pushing the story into the realm of fable is James Horner’s wonderfully imaginative score, which is now available in its entirety thanks to the industrious (albeit decidedly terrestrial) angels at Intrada Records. While some 45 minutes of selected highlights appeared on the vinyl record that accompanied the movie’s release (and subsequently on a CD album that before long became so rare that it sold for hundreds of dollars on Amazon and eBay), Intrada have now released it as well as the entire score, containing a wealth of previously unavailable highlights that finally reveal just how much of a gem this score is. James Horner composed close to 90 minutes of music for *batteries not included, a shade under 75 of which can be heard in the movie. The following is a track-by-track analysis that tries to shed some light on the musical bones of the score but especially focuses on its success as a storytelling device – an area in which James Horner never failed to excel. The timings mentioned are as in the film, the cue titles are taken from the Intrada album. Three cues, likely created editorially with existing score, understandably do not appear on the Intrada album, whereas three more cues appear on the album but not in the film. The cues listed unreleased in the article are all from Getting Old, just edited.
1. Main Titles (0:17 – 4:27, CD Track Time 4:58)
When Matthew Robbins was at California’s USC, he studied with Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Robbins did a cameo in Lucas’s THX-1138 (1971) and co-wrote the screenplay of Spielberg’s The Sugarland Express (1974), which nabbed an award at the Cannes Film Festival. Along with USC buddy Hal Barwood, Robbins took a look at the Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters (1977) screenplays before moving on to the director’s chair in 1978 with Corvette Summer (starring Mark Hamill, fresh from Star Wars). The close association with Steven Spielberg, perhaps Hollywood’s most visual storyteller, clearly rubbed off on Robbins, especially in the highly cinematic montage that opens *batteries not included. Robbins effectively contrasts sepia-toned stills of the neighborhood during its heyday in the 1940s and the inner-city ruin into which it has descended by the time the story starts. Counter-intuitively, the period when the place was very much alive is captured in black-and-white stills, whereas the ruin is illustrated by moving camera shots. The contrast is as imaginative as it is subtly disturbing and best of all, the sequence is entirely wordless. Adding a cinematic dimension of his own, James Horner bathes the moment in jazz, the score’s first pillar. To the composer’s credit, the jazzy main title is musically consistent yet tonally varied: the jazz sounds breezy when we see the pictures of the past, yet thins down to somewhat slurred and painfully stretched-out brass notes as the movie cuts to the present. True to his flair for storytelling and drama, and putting character before setting, Horner judiciously returns to insouciant jazz when we see old Faye ambling through the ruins. Since she is stuck in the past in more ways than one, the upbeat jazz now serves as a wonderful dramatization of the character: Horner paints her as a beam of light in a world of gloom, yet even Faye’s demeanor is tinged with sadness, nowhere more so than when she wanders through the torn-down shell of an old neighbor’s house. I have always felt that moviemaking is at its best when words and thoughts are transformed into images and sounds, which Matthew Robbins and James Horner do so admirably here.
The jazz material is a deliberate carry-over from the highly successful Cocoon (1986), from which this movie clearly takes a page. By returning to this material (and later on, to some of the electronic embellishment of the previous score), James Horner creates links and threads that over the course of many decades will develop into the intricate patchwork that his collective oeuvre would blossom into.
Cuban Memories (CD Track Time 3:42) (previously unreleased, unused)
Café Swing (CD Track Time 3:35) (mostly unused)
The Intrada album features two arrangements of the jazz material that Horner composed for the film but were not used. (Only eight seconds of Café Swing emanate from the diner’s jukebox.)
2. Getting Old (17:45-19:24) (CD Track Time 1:35, previously unreleased)
Even though fully three quarters of the movie are scored, Horner lets the next thirteen minutes take care of themselves, not even scoring the moment when Carlos and his friends push old Frank out into the street and take a devastating swing at the greasy old diner’s furniture, smashing one of the old pictures of Riley’s Place hanging on the walls. When Sidney and Muriel, another elderly couple, move out to take up residence in a retirement home, Frank is reminded that “it’s not a home anymore”. The cue starts mid-shot during Frank’s painful realization, and Horner captures his despair with bittersweet and understated music for oboe and saxophone. Although there’s no theme per se here, the soothing harmonics and long notes constitute the score’s second building stone. As we will see later on, Horner returns to it in scenes of a very different tone.
3. Mason’s Paintings (19:54 – 20:38) (unreleased)
The cue starts as Faye presses a comforting kiss on Frank’s lips, and spends most of its short running time on Mason throwing his paintings out the window, frustrated by his girlfriend leaving. As she sees the paintings fall down by the window of her own apartment, we meet the pregnant Marisa, and this is when Horner presents the very first statement of what will become the score’s main theme. Introducing it over a shot of a baby growing inside Marisa’s belly, and in keeping with the movie’s overarching theme, Horner subtly announces this beautiful melody as a theme of life, as I will refer to it from here on in. For all of you young readers out there, this is the way things were done back in the day: the composer would craft a melody (usually quite a few), introduce it in the subtlest of ways, develop and nurture it over the course of the score and allow it to shine during the final third. Furthermore, in the case of this particular composer, the main theme is typically attributed to surprisingly varied contexts, which turns it into a fantastic multi-dimensional storytelling device. More on that as we go along.
This short cue (44 seconds) is absent from the Intrada album; it may be material composed for another scene and tracked into this one.
4. Night Visitors (20:39-29:12, CD Track Time 8:52)
Ever the (ignorant) optimist, Faye comforts her depressed husband singing “Just around the corner, there’s a rainbow in the sky” (from “Let’s have another cup of coffee”, an Irving Berlin song from the musical comedy Face the Music – 1932). The line is a meaningful one, since this is the movie’s elaborate break into act II and the moment when the flying saucers appear. At almost nine minutes, it is also the score’s lengthiest cue, called Night Visitors on the original album. Incidentally, the moment inspired Drew Struzan’s beautifully enigmatic movie poster. Back in the eighties, Struzan was Spielberg’s (and everyone else’s) go-to guy for poster art. He did more than 150 of them, ranging from Indiana Jones to The Goonies to Back To The Future to Star Wars to Rambo. Horner extends the textures of the previous cue into the first minute of this one, but then, at 22:31, changes gears completely for the arrival of the extraterrestrials. George Lucas’s ILM equipped the flying saucers with eyes, just one of the many endearing ways in which the creatures are anthropomorphized. Not surprisingly, James Horner does the rest of the work, endowing the saucers with a wide span of emotions and, indeed, a soul. Horner alternately draws on shimmering strings for the mystery they initially represent and reaches deep into his musical toolbox for imaginative and weird sounds (plus playful woodwinds) for the bumbling motion of the almost depleted female saucer. Also, he comes up with a bizarre, out-of-this-world ten-note line that makes its first appearance at 24:20 and last but not least, a fully-fledged theme that is as sprightly as it is endearing. The theme is introduced at 25:00 and exists in the same world as the melodies Horner composed for The Land Before Time (1988) and An American Tail (1986). By drawing from the same palette as his animation scores and by giving the theme to the tuba, Horner treats the flying saucers as creatures from the realm of children's movies, which is an interesting and meaningful move on the composer’s part. The strange ten-note melody returns as the female saucer plugs into a power outlet and recharges. The misterioso strings underscore the moment when the saucers fix the smashed photograph (off-screen). Faye is woken by strange noises and has a puzzled look on her face when she finds the picture fixed. The moment is scored with delightful pizzicato material, which extends into to a shot straight from E.T. (1982), as an off-screen creature pulls a toaster up the stairs by its electrical cord. Faye follows the toaster up to the roof shed, where the creatures have set up camp. At 28:46, there’s another direct nod to E.T., when one of the creatures hides in shutdown mode among all manner of hardware and kitchen appliances. Unlike Elliott’s mother, however, Faye susses the saucer out and starts pulling on a cord, forcing the (female) extraterrestrial to come out of hiding. When the male saucer jumps in and defiantly faces Faye, Horner responds with a sudden outburst of frantic brass and supplies a fortissimo ending to a wildly imaginative cue.
5. The Morning After (30:03-32:43) (CD Track Time 2:46, previously unreleased)
An unsuspecting Frank is on the phone with Island Manor retirement home, ready to throw in the towel, when he spots the smashed picture of his diner, now miraculously put together again. James Horner fittingly responds with the theme of life over shimmering soft electronics. As the tenants wake up, they each find something of value fixed: Marisa’s plaster saint, Harry’s front door and so on. Mason mumbles: “We have elves.”
Up on the roof, Horner returns to the main title jazz, taking Faye’s point of view. The old woman is seen feeding nails to imaginative creatures like they were metal birds. As Marisa’s frying pan turns up, Frank accuses her of theft and urges her to snap out of her fantasies.
6. Riley’s Cafe (33:45 – 36:01) (CD Track Time 2:54, previously unreleased)
Mason goes into the roof shed and, after getting a jolt, quickly storms out with fried hair. At 33:56, there’s a wonderful, lightning-fast statement of the theme of life as Faye smashes her husband’s wristwatch, after which Horner brings in the tuba theme as the creatures come out of hiding and fix it. It’s back to Faye’s jazz as the stunned tenants discover the diner’s furniture restored to its former glory. A particularly neat little moment occurs when Kovacs, one of Lacey’s henchmen, notices the lively goings-on inside and calls his boss. Horner momentarily halts the jazz and incorporates the rhythmic dialing of the phone number into the score cue.
7. The Bread Box (37:04 – 38:50) (CD Track Time 1:43, previously unreleased)
Casper-like orchestrations and pizzicato strings play as one of the saucers hides under a bread box and lifts it into the air. When Frank shouts stop, the music halts and returns to the misterioso strings and some orchestrations reminiscent of Cocoon. The tuba theme returns for one of the saucers charging up in the kitchen while Faye cooks up an omelet.
8. Carlos (39:04 – 41:12) (CD Track Time 2:14, previously unreleased)
Horner plays the comedy card for Carlos getting hit by one of the saucers with a cooking pot. Casper-like orchestral jazz is heard as the saucers chase him out of the building. Meanwhile, Faye keeps calling him Bobby, mistaking him for her son, whose death she does not remember. The cue segues immediately into
9. Aerial Ballet (41:12 – 46:37) (CD Track Time 6:08, previously unreleased)
When Mason wonders what the creatures are and where they come from, Frank teaches him the ultimate Spielberg lesson: “The quickest way to end a miracle is to ask it why it is or what it wants.” (During a brainstorming session back in 1982, screenwriter Blake Snyder wondered if the E.T. script might benefit from an episode with the press. Spielberg replied: “Never bring in the press if you want to keep the magic intact.”)
At 41:53, one of the saucers loses a “hand” (a recycled part of Mason’s coffee pot, to be precise). Horner scores the moment with a horn statement of the theme of life, the first instance in which the theme is also made to address loss. Later, it will comment on death. By treating life and death with the same theme, Horner ties together scenes that are tonal opposites and provides a subtle philosophical comment all his own.
Horner moves the theme of life to beguiling flutes playing under a conversation between Marisa and Faye about motherhood and Bobby. From here on in, the flutes will often perform the theme when it speaks to the story’s most innocent characters: Marisa and Harry, the simpleton who used to be a boxing champ.
At 43: 41, Horner brings in some swirly strings almost straight out of the opening section of Stealing The Enterprise (Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, 1984) as the saucers soar to the sky and dive into a chimney. At 44:04, there is time for three successive statements of the tuba theme, after which it turns into a sort of lovers’ dance as the saucers lock and lift the roof shed off its mountings as they mate. A charmed Faye says: “She’s gonna get hungry.”
The tenants rush extension cords up to the roof shed to make sure the pregnant female saucer has access to electricity. More importantly, it is the first time the characters work together and Horner responds with the first fully-developed string treatment of the theme of life. (However, he is careful enough not to overplay his hand, keeping the most triumphant statements for the third act.) At 45:30, the theme is taken up by flutes as Harry hands the female saucer his Christmas lights. They light up almost immediately, accompanied by ebullient brass accents right out of the Star Trek scores.
10. Marisa and Mason (48:29 – 50:41) (CD Track Time 1:59, previously unreleased)
The score is moving on. At this point, Horner ignores the magic (the male alien feeding the pregnant female scrap metal) and does not start the cue until the movie cuts to a scene between Mason and Marisa. (The composer reminds us that ultimately, this story is about humans, not flying saucers.) The cue divides into two parts. First, Horner draws on Marisa’s flutes but not on any specific melody. Instead, he brings back the understated material from the wistful second cue. There, it was a perfect fit for a scene of loss and sadness, here it is an equally perfect fit for a scene of glowing intimacy. This has to be one of the most magical and mysterious aspects of music: the same series of notes can be appropriate for contexts which are vastly different in terms of tone. If you will allow a brief digression: I remember a four-minute cue composed by Angelo Badalamenti for the German movie Napola (aka Before The Fall, 2004): the cue plays over a montage of moments ranging from intimacy to exhilaration to sadness and back to intimacy. Badalamenti scored all of it with tonally uniform music, and yet he managed to do justice to each of the different emotions. It’s uncanny.
The second part of the cue centers around the theme of life as Marisa discovers Mason’s paintings wholly intact in her room, after they had been taken away by the garbage collectors.
11. New Babies (51:06 – 54:48, CD Track Time 3:46)
Carlos’s friends treat his strange story about flying saucers with contempt. They take his picture and snap: “Wanna see a strange object? Here!” This is where the Carlos character starts getting isolated, and Horner briefly and sympathetically scores his doubts before going into the babies scene. The lively strings (in Stealing The Enterprise-mode) return and when the female saucer goes into labor, Horner provides hesitating woodwinds and the tuba theme. During labor, she blows the fuses and Mason, Frank and Harry rush down to the cellar to fix the fuse box, while Horner moves to light action music reminiscent of Cocoon overlaid with lively statements of the theme of life. Power is restored, twins fall out of the saucer’s hatch and Fay is overjoyed: “I’m a grandmother!”
However, after the twins comes one more baby saucer. Unfortunately, the third one is a stillborn. The cue closes with a somber low string chord.
Faye dutifully buries the stillborn while an inquisitive Mason suggests opening it up, much to the indignation of an emotional and pregnant Marisa.
12. Hamburger Rhumba (56:48 – 1:01:00, CD Track Time 3:42)
After the three of them have shuffled off, Harry digs up the stillborn saucer baby and takes it to his apartment, where he sets about resurrecting it. James Horner treats the moment with an unbridled optimism that recalls the end title cue from An American Tail.
Meanwhile, Riley’s place draws new customers, almost all of them the construction workers paid to level the diner in the first place. Faye turns on the jukebox and out comes rhumba music which plays for four consecutive minutes. Horner intentionally overlooks Frank and Faye’s meaningful conversation about them having become a family again, with Bobby and newcomers Flotsam and Jetsam, as Faye has come to call the twins. By the time Kovacs arrives and Carlos sneaks up to the roof shed, the score cue has become source music, the rhumba now emanating exclusively from the cafe’s jukebox.
13. Blocked Plumbing (1:03:53 – 1:04:54) (CD Track Time 1:36, previously unreleased)
When the stillborn saucer baby is accidentally hurled into a sink filled with dishwater, it gets a jolt and is revived, but then it flushes down the drain and into the piping. All of this is scored with alternately playful and misterioso strings, and flutes intoning the theme of life as the little one crawls out of a toilet pot.
14. Marisa’s Paintings (1:05:36 – 1:06:34) (CD Track Time 1:03, previously unreleased)
Mason rediscovers his paintings and Horner presents variations on the music heard in the second cue and in the first half of the tenth.
15. Flying Lesson (1:08:06 – 1:14:01) (CD Track Time 7:53, previously unreleased)
This lengthy track hinges primarily on the tuba theme and the theme of life. The former is heard while the twins fool around on Mason’s painting palette. It is also present during a particularly lively section starting at 1:10:45 as dad teaches the twins how to fly by throwing them in at the deep end (or, in this case, by hurling them down the staircase). It’s truly one of the highlights of the unreleased material.
Mason paints a semi-nude painting of Marisa (something his previous girlfriend wished he had done for her) and at this point, Horner allows his theme of life to become a theme of love, adding another dimension to the melody. Love is nipped in the bud, however, when Marisa finds that her boyfriend Hector is back.
16. The Basement (1:15:29 – 1:19:31) (CD Track Time 4:50, previously unreleased)
Carlos goes up to see Kovacs and big boss Lacey. He is told he’s had his chance and someone else will take over. Carlos persists and realizes he has to take more drastic steps to get back into his bosses’ good books. He gets hold of an axe and cuts the powerlines in the building’s basement. Dark and ominous strings are heard as the saucers fly down to inspect the scene, while Harry follows with the three babies in his arms. (The theme of life plays compassionately.) Then disaster strikes: Carlos swings the axe at dad, who goes down. Here and in the remainder of the score, Horner starts getting some serious mileage out of his theme of life, which he drapes in colors that fit many different moments. Here, it cries out in agony as the dad saucer dies. It’s back to action music as Carlos tries to escape and throws Harry down the stairs while the baby saucers fly to safety. The falling motion in Horner’s music mimics Harry’s fall – Horner was not afraid to use clichés when they worked, and this movie being at heart a fable, they work. At 1:18:37, everyone gangs up on Carlos, Harry straps on his boxing gloves and kicks Carlos out “door number 1”.
17. Bobby (1:19:35 – 1:20:28) (unreleased)
Horner again draws from the material from cues #2, 10 and 14 for this brief scene, which finds Faye running to Bobby’s / Carlos’s rescue and Frank giving her a good shake: Bobby is dead and Faye had better come to grips with that. This is another short cue absent from Intrada’s program, and again, it may be tracked-in music.
18. Despair (1:20:49 – 1:21:34) (unreleased)
The theme of life sounds mournful when Harry notices that the babies are missing and the misterioso strings return while mom tries to bring dad back to life. This short cue is not on the Intrada album.
Babies Buzz New York (CD Track Time 2:31) (previously unreleased, unused)
This is the third cue composed for but not included in the film. It mainly develops material from The Flying Lesson as the babies fly out and discover Manhattan. At 0:41 and at 1:09, Horner throws in blink-and-you-will-miss-them references to Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story (1961). The nods to the New York locale are as delightful as they are appropriate.
19. Times Square and Farewell (1:22:01 – 1:27:50, CD Track Time 6:11)
Harry runs out to find the babies and ends up on Times Square, the other tenants in tow. Meanwhile DeWitt, Lacey’s new goon, arrives at the premises with a can of gas, clearly intent on burning the place down. Brilliantly and unexpectedly, Horner uses the theme of life over a bed of dark strings even during this scene of arson.
The theme returns to the flute as the babies mistake a wheel cap for their dad and fly back to Harry’s whistle. Star Trek-like orchestrations play as Faye notices that mom has resurrected dad. The old woman urges them to go find their babies.
As the twins feed on Times Square’s power lines, the theme of life starts soaring in earnest. This is the story’s third act and Horner is taking his foot off the pedal. However, when mom and dad arrive on Times Square, they blame the tenants for the attack on the male saucer and the entire family whisk off into the night skies. Harry is reluctant to let go of the third baby, and does so only after Frank urges him to. I mention this moment because Horner scores it with arguably the most heartbreaking rendition of the theme of life, stretched out and tinged with the kind of beautiful sadness that perhaps only he could pull off.
20. Arson (1:29:13 – 1:35:22, CD Track Time 6:08)
Carlos may want the tenants out, but arson is one step too far for him, and he confronts DeWitt. However, the explosives have been set and there’s no way back. The first part of the cue features an insistent ostinato that looks ahead to the foreboding first part of Rendezvous at Griffith Park Observatory from The Rocketeer (1991).
At 1:30:50, Carlos notices Faye is still in the building and he manipulates her into leaving. Faye, at last, realizes that Carlos is not Bobby. She resists being taken away, locks herself in her bedroom and digs up a scrapbook that contains an article about her son dying in a car crash. Quite brilliantly, Horner scores the entire moment with the same slurred, stretched-out brass notes that he introduced in the main titles. There, they spoke to urban decay, here they comment on Faye’s painful realization in the context of a rapidly spreading fire.
The cue builds up to two cymbal crashes. The first occurs when the disillusioned tenants come back from Times Square only to find their entire building going up in flames, the second is when the brownstone comes crashing down. The latter in particular is handled outstandingly well. Several pained fragments of the theme of life make it a deeply musical moment. Moreover, it is a wonderful example of Hornerian interconnectivity in that its harmonic set-up echoes The Destruction of the Black Fortress from Krull (1983). The cue closes with a dark chord as Harry sits lost and forlorn on the steps of the ruined building.
21. Out of the Ashes (1:35:42 – 1:38:41) (CD Track Time 2:53, previously unreleased)
Fortunately, Carlos was able to save Faye just in time. He pays her a visit at the hospital, bringing flowers and gifts. Faye, however, bursts into tears and Carlos slinks away, dropping his flowers into a waste basket. That is the last we see of him, and I’m not sure why the filmmakers did not resolve his character arc in a more convincing way. Has he redeemed himself or not? Neither is Faye seen coming to terms with the death of her son : her character arc ends with the open wound of loss.
Frank is ready to take his wife to the retirement home, both of them unaware of what has happened in the meantime. In fact, back at the site of the ruined brownstone, Horner’s flutes signal the arrival of the third baby saucer. Then, the entire family appear to be back. Finally, an enthusiastic cymbal crash ushers in the theme of life in the score’s most magnificent rendition yet as it is revealed that the family have brought reinforcements – many, many reinforcements, who rebuild the tenement from the ground up. Inexplicably, this unmissable cue was not part of the original album.
22. A New Family / End Credits (Part 1) (1:39:26 – 1:40:14, CD Total Track Time 8:36)
Horner takes Frank’s point of view as the old man looks up in amazement. The immaculately restored brownstone now qualifies for classified building status, which means Lacey cannot tear it down again. The theme of life plays in joyful fashion as Harry peaks out from the roof. On the albums, this cue is paired with the next one, but in the movie the music fades out as Lacey walks out the front door, snaps at the journalists who have swarmed to the scene and fires Kovacs.
23. A New Family / End Credits (Part 2) (1:40:40 – 1:46:26)
A particularly moving moment occurs at 1:41:03 when Horner presents another all-out statement of the theme of life that is every bit as exuberant as the broad smile on Faye’s face.
The last shot shows the neighborhood completely transformed into the high-rise project envisioned by Lacey. However, one particular skyscraper is cut in half, leaving room in the middle for the comparatively minuscule brownstone in which Riley’s Place is doing a roaring trade. In this context, Horner’s reprise of the jazz material that got the score started sounds downright triumphant. The end credits roll and Horner has them all to himself. He builds the theme of life into several more thunderous statements, quotes the tuba theme in between and ends in customarily restrained fashion, with misterioso strings playing under hints of the theme of life in the xylophone. During the final cadenza, Horner lays electronic effects straight from Cocoon over the penultimate note and then finishes off with admirable serenity.
What I take away from this wonderful score are the wide-ranging attributions of the theme of life (from life to love to death) as well as its careful development and growth, from subtle hints to magnificent statements for the entire orchestra, but also the composer’s ability to apply identical music to scenes of a markedly different tone, the neat snippets of interconnectivity, linking this score to others in the Horner canon (especially, and appropriately, Cocoon), and as usual, the richness of Horner’s orchestrations, his remarkable storytelling talents, the instincts of a consummate dramatist and an unshakable focus on character.
Make sure your CD player has plenty of juice, because it too comes “*batteries not included” and you do not want it to power down when finally discovering this magical score for the first time in its complete form!
The 2-CD of * Batteries Not Included is available on store.intrada.com
Thanks to Roger Feigelson (Intrada) and Nick Martin
CD 1 Complete Soundtrack
01. Main Title (4:55)
02. Cuban Memories (3:40)
03. Cafe Swing (3:32)
04. Getting Old (1:32)
05. Night Visitors (8:49)
06. The Morning After (2:46)
07. Riley’s Café (2:52)
08. The Bread Box (1:41)
09. Carlos (2:11)
10. Aerial Ballet (6:05)
11. Marisa And Mason (1:56)
12. New Babies (3:45)
13. Hamburger Rhumba (3:39)
14. Blocked Plumbing (1:35)
15. Marisa’s Paintings (1:02)
16. The Flying Lesson (7:51)
17. The Basement (4:47)
18. Babies Buzz New York (2:26)
CD 1 Total Time: 65:57
Original 1987 Soundtrack Album
05. Main Title (4:55)
06. Night Visitors (8:49)
07. Hamburger Rhumba (3:39)
08. New Babies (3:45)
09. Cafe Swing (3:32)
10. Times Square And Farewell (6:07)
11. Arson (6:08)
12. A New Family/End Credits (8:30)
Album Time: 45:43
CD 2 Total Time: 69:33