'The Big Chill' tunes up Turner Classic Movies, Motown-style
To the contrary, "The Big Chill" reheated classic songs from the 1960s and '70s so successfully that it yielded not one soundtrack album but two (released, appropriately, on the Motown label).
A big factor of "The Big Chill" is the timelessness of the music it makes such clever use of. That's evident right from the start, as
(Trivia note: Alex -- the suicide -- is played by
The way Kasdan structured "The Big Chill," each song has a specific purpose. Here are some of the tunes and the moments they underscore.
"You Can't Always Get What You Want" by the
"Tell Him" by the Exciters: The guests of Harold and Sarah (
"Good Lovin' " by the Rascals: The brief "stop" in the song is timed perfectly after Alex's girlfriend, Chloe (
"Ain't Too Proud to Beg" by the Temptations: In maybe the movie's most famous scene, the friends hit the kitchen after a big dinner ... cleaning up while moving to the music's beat.
"Gimme Some Lovin' " by the Spencer Davis Group: This energetic song accompanies an equally energetic touch-football game.
"The Weight" by the Band: The slow pace of this tune is perfect for a time-lapse sequence showing various characters entering the kitchen early in the morning, some trying on the running shoes Harold has gifted them with.
"Bad Moon Rising" by
"When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge: As this song starts up, it's clear from Sarah's face that she's hatched the selfless idea of asking Harold to help businesswoman Meg (Mary Kay Place) fulfill her dream of becoming a single parent, through biological means.
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by
"I Second That Emotion" by
"Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night: The movie ends as it began musically, though the first time this song is heard, it comes from the mouth of Sarah and Harold's bathtub-bound young son (Jon Kasdan, one of the director's offspring, in his screen debut).
"The Big Chill" is so smart in its use of music, you may not realize until much later that no tunes were created specifically for the film. All the songs already existed, and for the most part, they were hugely familiar.
Of course, it's nothing new for a film to borrow popular songs for its own purposes but "The Big Chill" is one of the rare examples of a movie that built its entire soundtrack on them. And that's a very good reason its fans continue to feel so warmly toward it.