Soundtrack Review: ‘Grand Canyon’ Extended Edition

Grand Canyon soundtrack cover

Anybody who knows me best knows I am a huge fan of film scores and soundtracks, and James Newton Howard’s score to “Grand Canyon” is one of my all-time favorites. I knew at some point this score would get an expanded and remastered soundtrack, and La La Land Records finally came through with this limited-edition release. While he is better known for his music to “The Prince of Tides,” “The Fugitive,” “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” which he worked with Hans Zimmer on, “Grand Canyon” remains my favorite work of his as the music provides a soothing heartbeat to this movie.

The movie “Grand Canyon” came out in 1991 and was directed by Lawrence Kasdan and written by him and his wife Meg. Its story revolves around six different Los Angeles residents whose lives intertwine with one another over the course of a few days. It all starts when Mac (Kevin Kline), while driving home from a Lakers game, drives into a bad neighborhood where his car breaks down. Just when it looks like he’s about to be killed by a gang, tow truck driver Simon (Danny Glover) rescues him and the two end up becoming unlikely friends. Many called it “The Big Chill” of the 1990’s, but “Grand Canyon” more than stands on its own as it observes the lives of Los Angeles residents who are dealing with personal issues which are tearing them apart.

What I love about Howard’s score is how it combines so many different kinds of music, be it orchestra, electronics, rock, jazz or percussion, to create a film score so unique to where I have a hard time comparing it to any other. It captures the coldness of big city life while giving the characters stuck in it a sympathetic voice which understands how they feel. The “Main Titles” hooked me right away and made me feel so at ease even though I knew this movie was not going to be a fairy tale.

La La Land Records limited edition release of “Grand Canyon” includes twenty-five minutes of music not included on its original release. Soundtracks, back in the 1990’s, were limited to having only forty to fifty minutes of music on a compact disc, so a lot of great stuff got left out as a result. It’s been over twenty years since this movie came out, but the music remains as powerful as ever. In addition, there are some bonus tracks which are alternate takes on certain themes as well as some source music for a violent film which Davis (Steve Martin) has produced with an unrestrained glee.

As usual, La La Land Records has provided an informative booklet on the making of “Grand Canyon” and its music which is entitled “Scoring the City of Angels” written by Daniel Schweiger, soundtrack editor of AssignmentX.com and Filmmusicmag.com. Schweiger writes extensively about the making of the movie and of how Howard came up with the music for it, and I’m not sure we have had as much detailed information on the creation of this score previously. Each track on this disc gets an individual write up, and it’s nice to see someone, let alone anyone, give this soundtrack the attention it deserves.

If there’s any downside to this edition of the “Grand Canyon” soundtrack, it’s that it doesn’t include the song “Searching for a Heart” by the late Warren Zevon. Usually La La Land Records is able to get all the songs from a movie’s original soundtrack, but I guess there was an issue with the rights this time around. It would have also been great to have the other Zevon song featured in this movie, “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” included as well. Mac plays it while he’s driving home from the Lakers game, and the lyrics turn out to be quite prophetic for him.

“Grand Canyon” is truly one of the unsung cinematic masterpieces of the 1990’s, and what’s sad is most people don’t know about this movie today. This proved to be my introduction to the work of James Newton Howard, and it is one of the main reasons why this movie is so great. I am thrilled to see La La Land Records has taken the time to make Howard’s score sound better than ever before. While he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for his work here (he was instead nominated that same year for “The Prince of Tides”), there’s no doubt in my mind this remains his most memorable film score to date.

This limited edition has only 2000 units available, so be sure to order yours before it goes out of print.

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Exclusive Interview with Jeremy Sisto on ‘Break Point’

Actor Jeremy Sisto co-wrote, co-produced and stars in “Break Point” as Jimmy Price, an over the hill and unapologetically brash doubles tennis star who realizes his days in the sport are numbered. The sports comedy starts with his latest partner dropping out on him, and it doesn’t take long to see just how many bridges he has burned while on the pro circuit. His last and only chance to make it to a grand slam tournament is to partner up with his estranged brother Darren (David Walton) who used to play doubles tennis with him until they had a falling out. The question is, can they move past their deep-seated resentments of each other to work together effectively as a team? With the help of 11-year-old Barry (Joshua Rush), they just might have a chance.

Sisto has been acting since he was a kid, and he made his film debut in Lawrence Kasdan’s “Grand Canyon.” Since then we have seen him grow up before our eyes in movies like “Clueless,” “Thirteen,” and he even got to play Jesus in the television miniseries “Jesus.” Many know him best from his role as William Chenowith on the HBO series “Six Feet Under” where he played an artist suffering from bipolar disorder and occasional bouts of mania. In 2008 he joined the cast of NBC’s long-running “Law & Order” as Detective Cyrus Lupo, and he stayed with the show through its final three seasons during which he acted opposite Jesse L. Martin and Anthony Anderson.

Sisto sat down with me for an interview at the “Break Point” press day held in Los Angeles, California, and he talked about how he and the filmmakers wanted this sports movie to stand out from others like it. Sisto also discussed how he managed to make the difficult transition from child actor to adult actor, the challenges of getting “Break Point” made, and he shared his experience of working on “Grand Canyon” and of how special the making of it was for him.

Check out the interview above and enjoy! To find out how you can watch “Break Point,” please sure to visit the movie’s website for more information (www.thebreakpointfilm.com).

Break point movie poster

Copyright Ben Kenber 2015.