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Friday, July 23, 2010


Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Music by Theodore Shapiro
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1139 (US)
34 Tracks 44:22 mins

Theodore Shapiro has been well and truly typecast as a scorer of comedies, which is a shame, in my opinion, and I'd like to hear him score a film again like 2001's Heist, which sports one of the best contemporary thriller scores there is. Having said that, he is a master of what he does in these comedies. It's quite an art finding the right accompaniment - whether to play for laughs or play against what is on screen, as the late, great Elmer Bernstein virtually instigated in scores like Airplane! and Animal House, and it's a shame that comedy scores aren't taken more seriously by the record companies. Shapiro has suffered like others in having one cut on a soundtrack album, or a handful if really lucky, though there have been a few decent score albums in his catalogue to treasure.
Perhaps things are finally looking up though, as I have not one but three Shapiro scores to review for you, the first being for the new family comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which is based on Jeff Kinney's popular illustrated novel and stars Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron, with "Hit Girl" herself, Chloe Moretz in a supporting role.
In his note in the accompanying booklet, which also contains a note from the film's director, Thor Freudenthal, and a synopsis of the plot, Shapiro says that he wanted the score to have qualities similar to the lead character's stick figure drawings: "imperfect, childlike, playful and handmade." To aid in this, the composer utilised an out-of-tune upright piano, also substituting a small chamber orchestra for the larger forces wherever possible. A garage rock trio also features, with the drummer having been encouraged to "play less well than he was capable of playing."
The results are a mixture of infectious upbeat cues like "Late for School," where we first hear the main theme on the out-of-tune piano (we are to hear it crop up in many variations throughout the subsequent score), and the title track, with its underlying flowing organ rhythm; easy-going tracks like "Intellectual Wasteland," and of course plenty of comedy, often mixed with action writing, can be found, as in the uproarious "The Cheese Touch;" with some out-and-out menacing action in the likes of "Literally Kill You;" and bold heroics in "Into the Woods." But really the score has so much more to offer than this, it's just that the music is so varied and inventive that I would have to cover it track by track to properly describe it all and, as I unfortunately don't have the time to do that right now, I'll just conclude by saying that this is a fun listening experience and well deserving of a CD release. OK, so some of the tracks are quite brief, as is often the case with comedy, but the disc still manages to flow really well.
Go to for samples and to order your copy of this likable album.
La-La Land have also released Shapiro's score for Idiocracy, paired with John Frizzell's Office Space, and Lakeshore Records are releasing his music for the new Steve Carell comedy Dinner for Schmucks, so watch this space!


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