MARLEY AND ME composer Theodore Shapiro has always had a thing for the comedic underdog in such scores as DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY and ONCE CHANCE, all while creating clearly distinct musical characters for these seeming losers, whether it be wacky percussion, dream-like melody or operatic triumph. But he’s likely never gotten a true, cantankerous schlub like Bill Murray’s boozing Vietnam vet who seems to be anything but ST. VINCENT. Yet like all of his previous life-losers, Shapiro finds a heart of gold underneath them with his catchy, rhythmic approach. The trick here is grabbing onto the music that Murray’s curmudgeon likely listened to during his glory days, then crossing it with whatever tune might have been playing in the bar he frequents.
The result is a boozy, bluesy score that stays after last call on its way to a BAD SANTA-esque redemption that only a nice latchkey kid can provide. Coming up with easygoing melodies that play off Murray’s undeniable charm, Shapiro gradually opens the score’s emotion up from a crabapple player piano, not-so-cool Hammond organ and alternately shuffling and stumbling percussion. He takes the score through its emotional beats in a way that’s nicely subtle instead of forced, from sweet hand-clap montage music to the eerie synths of more dramatic moments, with a poignant violin and tender guitar that enters the scene to signal some sort of bonding breakthrough. Eschewing the “cool” factor of other retro rock scores, Shapiro can be blessed for a funny and personable rough-around-the-edges score that plays up a ratty neighborhood and the fact that the guy next door isn’t such an a-hole after all. Like this thoroughly satisfying movie, that’s graced with Murray’s best work yet, Shapiro’s ST. VINCENT has an emotionally winning attitude with a capital A.
AGREE? DISAGREE? LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD – COMMENT BELOW