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Of Dogs, OAPs and Weddings

February 26, 2023

We’re nearing the end of February, and that means we’re already one-sixth into 2023. Let’s have a quick look at three light-hearted scores that have come out in the last few weeks: Dog Gone (Emily Bear), 80 For Brady (John Debney) and Shotgun Wedding (Pinar Toprak).

Dog Gone tells the story of every dog owner’s worst nightmare: a dog runs away and an extensive search commences. The movie is based on Pauls Toutonghi’s novel The Dog Gone: A Lost Pet’s Extraordinary Journey and the Family Who Brought Him Home. As titles go, it’s incredibly flawed, as not only is it far too long, but it also contains a major spoiler (I won’t point it out if you haven’t spotted it). That said, it’s not a deal breaker. We knew what fate awaited Titanic and we still all loved that movie. Dog Gone is directed by Stephen Herek, who’s directed some good movies back in the 1990s, such as Critters, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Three Musketeers, 101 Dalmatians and Mr Holland’s Opus. Since the turn of the millennium his output has been less impressive I’m afraid.

Anyway, let’s talk about the music. Considering Herek worked with David Newman on a good half a dozen movies, I’m almost surprised it’s not Newman this time. Instead, we get a lovely, whimsical score from Emily Bear for whom this marks her first feature film at the young age of 22. The main attraction of the score is its light-hearted, innocent character. Strings and woodwinds take the lead, with occasional accents from guitars, mallets, light percussion and a tiny bit of brass. Really, it’s pretty standard family-friendly stuff with a touch of Americana. It’s not something that’s going to linger in your mind for very long, but it’s a well executed score with a nice main theme, soothing orchestrations and heaps of goodwill.

A lot of the above also applies to John Debney’s score for 80 for Brady, in which a group of OAP women travel from New England to the Super Bowl LI in Texas and get into ‘the best kind of trouble’. Let’s face it, Debney has totally mastered the ‘family-friendly stuff with a touch of Americana’. And guess what? Large parts of 80 are written for strings and winds, with accents from piano and plucked strings (you know, for that quirky, comedic sound).

The score veers from melancholy to upbeat like a drunk driver on ice, but Debney handles it with aplomb like the true professional he is. Again, it’s not something that’s going to get stuck in your head, but it’s forty minutes well spent.

When a wedding party in the Philippines is taken hostage, it’s up to the bride and groom to come to the rescue. And perhaps, composer Pinar Toprak had some rescuing to do on this not-so-well received comedy Shotgun Wedding. The score relies heavily on staccato strings, light percussion, mallets and ‘ethnic’ sounds to create a playful, comedic and vaguely indigenous vibe.

As the action grows in intensity, so does the music with added brass and more prominent percussion. It’s during these action cues that the score comes to live; and it’s in these tracks that the score resembles John Powell’s style to some degree. Again, it’s a well executed score, it’s fun whilst it’s playing, but it fails to make a lasting impressive.

Article by Pete Simons (c) 2023 Synchrotones Soundtrack Reviews

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