Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Cobbler (John Debney and Nick Urata – 2015)

„The cobbler” is the newest Adam Sandler movie. This time he repairs shoes in the same New York shop that has been in his family for generations. Disenchanted with the grind of daily life, he stumbles upon an heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way. I am usually frowning at Adam Sandler movies because lately they’ve not really been my cup of tea. But I’m here to talk about the music and this score was written by an interesting pair: John Debney, one of the most interesting and solid composers working today and Nick Urata, who scored the wacky “Little miss Sunshine”.

And what a delightful main title welcomes me to this score! Am I listening to an old Louis de Funes movie score? Will another French comedy master come on screen? The opening cue is John Debney like I’ve never heard him before: a delightfully infectious cabaret piece which makes me want to groove. I knew he was versatile but I didn’t expect this opening. “Lone figures meeting” continues in the same vein and I can almost imagine sad mimes acting in the park. The music features brass instruments and accordions and I am just laughing and enjoying the music. It’s circus music, park music, country fair music, I can’t even make up my mind but what I know for sure is that it’s just fun and it makes me think of the most relaxing and amusing of times.

The addition of the plucked strings in “New customer” is more than welcomed. The playfulness continues in “Magical stitcher” and just 10 minutes into this score I almost want to see the movie. A movie with a score like this one can’t be bad, right? There’s a wonderful sense of mischief in the music and this is one score I will play for my baby daughter. Hope the two composers can keep the momentum going.

I am trying to figure out why this sound resonates so well with me. Maybe because some of the violins sound Eastern European? Maybe because I’ve watched a lot of silly French comedies growing up and this makes me remember them? Is there a trace of Pink Panther in there? I swear I could see Inspector Clouseau “Visiting the crime scene”… I think delightfully silly and unique are the best words to describe John Debney’s work on this score. I haven’t heard a score like this one in a while. It’s like Hans Zimmer’s “Sherlock Holmes” met Goran Bregovic and had a musical infant which is now playing just like a baby, without purpose or logic but so amusing and enjoyable for the ones around it…

Nick Urata makes the score sound even more ethnic. “Test drive” is almost like gipsy music with a guitar twist. It stays just as amusing and blends with the rest of the composition. I can almost imagine the fun the two composers had recording the music of “The cobbler”. He also brings the first quiet and dreamy moments of the score, in “Ma’s wish” and “Pop’s soles”.

It’s not fair to more reflective cues like “Prepping for dinner” but the fun tracks ruined them for me. They feel like the moments when the laughs die down and you try to pick them back up again. “Date night dinner” blends the fun with the serious and the result is the most complex cue of the score. The score loses some of its steam from then on (I think the movie gets to the more action oriented parts” but the first half was more than enough to make it worth my time.

I am sure “The cobbler” will be very polarizing. You will either love it or be annoyed by it. Everyone will agree that it’s strange and unique though. It oculd have been shorter, but It caught me in the right mood to enjoy it and I did so. Either way, just try it, at least the first half. I dare you too keep a straight face when listening to it.

Cue rating: 78 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 19 / 59

Album excellence: 33%

Highlights:

The Cobbler Main Title

Lone Figures Meeting

Fifty Large

Magical Stitcher

Home To Ma’s House

Need Repairman

Visiting The Crime Scene

Date Night Dinner

Cobbler medley

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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