June 14, 2024
­Music from the
Motion Picture

Mona Lisa Smile
(Epic – 2003)
by Matthew S. Robinson

Though it may not be encouraging, it seems fitting that a film featuring four bubbly starlets pretending to be serious students should feature a soundtrack of similar simulations. On the men’s side are Seal’s semi-titular attempt at Nat King Cole and Chris Isaak’s Iglesi-esque “Besame Mucho.” Though Elton John’s contribution is an original, “The Heart of Every Girl” fits in best because it seems to be almost self-parody. Even Trevor Horn’s orchestral takes on “Istanbul” and “Sh Boom” are languid. Across campus, featured performer Tori Amos does her best to recapture the glamour of “You Belong to Me” and “Murder She Says” while Macy Gray croaks her way through “Santa Baby.”

Celine Dion’s Streisand-esque “Bewitched” might get by if Babs herself did not cap the collection with a tenderly touching take on Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.” While Kelly Rowland’s “Beginning to See the Light” is rather flat, fellow tween queen Mandy Moore’s subtly theatrical “Secret Love” is reminiscent of the likes of Bernadette Peters and makes for one of the strongest showings on this hyper-retro soundtrack.

© 2004, M. S. Robinson, ARR

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