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Dinner for Schmucks
  • Composed by Theodore Shapiro
  • Lakeshore Records LKS34183 / 2010 / 42:06

The latest film from Jay Roach (director of Austin Powers and Meet the Parents), Dinner for Schmucks sees Paul Rudd taking a geeky man he meets as his guest to a dinner party organised by his boss where the person who brings the biggest idiot wins a prize.  It doesn’t sound like a particularly appealing premise, but Roach has struck comedy gold in the past.  It was probably only a matter of time before the director worked with Theodore Shapiro, probably at the top of the pile of film composers for comedy at the moment.  Indeed, the last review I wrote here was also for a new Shapiro comedy score – and as I noted then, while I’m sure he would rather have a wider roster of films to work on, he does at least get to work in a variety of different styles for all these different comedies (ie the score for Dinner for Schmucks is not going to sound similar to the score for Year One).

This score is light and airy and really rather lovely.  There’s a real heart to the music – and real warmth.  Those are pretty rare qualities in comedy scores, so kudos to Shapiro for that.  There’s a really nice main theme (sounds a bit like a Beatles song!) which also receives a very pleasant vocal performance from Sondre Lerche.  There are occasional moments where the music gets more serious, but in truth those are few – in general this is upbeat and summery.  To make a facile comparison – if you like Rolfe Kent’s Sideways, you’ll probably like this (they don’t sound that alike, but do have a very similar vibe).  This is both relaxed and relaxing – there are prominent parts for ukulele, accordion, harmonica – there’s little here which isn’t charming.  I repeat my familiar refrain – it would be really nice to see this composer attached to more serious films to hear what he came up with, because it’s obvious he’s got the compositional chops for it – but with little sign of that happening, his CDs for the comedies will suffice and they are never less than appealing.  ***

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