Film scores

Soundtrack review: Staten Island Summer (John Swihart – 2015)

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The score for “An outrageous coming-of-age comedy about a hilarious group of misfit lifeguards on a mission to throw the wildest party of the summer” penned by people involved with Saturday Night Live doesn’t seem very inviting to me. I am not a big fan on extreme comedic scores and I have a very hard time connecting with them. This one was written by John Swihart who also did the music for “How I met your mother”. I hope the gross humor of the movie won’t translate in the music.

The discrepancy between the purpose of the music and me as a target listener comes from the fact that a score like “Staten Island Summer” is composed in order to help the movie and make it more whole while I am listening to it out of context, as a music album. I don’t have the funny (I hope) antics of the characters on screen to make me understand more of this score. Without the scenes I am left listening to a score which sounds rather generic with its quirky jazzy turns and the soft percussion that features very heavily.

Still the music is done right and is pleasant to listen to; I got a kick out of cues like “Let’s get to work” and, specially, “Underwater heist” which sounds like a proper spy movie cue. I am still on a spy music high from “Rogue nation” and “The man from U.N.C.L.E.” so it’s very easy for a cue like this one and its sequel “Chuck is still trapped” to ride that wave and make me groove and twist in my chair. I count these as the nice surprises of “Staten island summer”. Mark the wonderful and heartfelt final cue “I kept imagining her dad” on that list as well.

The next surprise for me is how after these two cues I can actually enjoy the others as well. I don’t feel disconnected anymore and even the generic sounding jazzy tropical cues start making some sense and I am heaving a very nice summer vacation listening experience from then on. The composer actually tries to go a little deeper with the music and I can tell that he tried to give a special sound to this score, a sound you might be able to remember. While I certainly will not return to “Staten Island summer” I can appreciate an honest score like this one and I enjoyed listening to it. I am sure that in the context of the movie it fits quite well and it will affect the audience in various ways.

Cue rating: 74 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 5 / 32

Album excellence: 15%

Highlights:

Underwear Heist

Chuck Is Still Trapped

I Kept Imagining Her Dad

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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