Film scores

Soundtrack review: Zoolander no. 2 (Theodore Shapiro – 2016)

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“Zoolander 2” (also known as Zoolander No. 2 and 2oolander) is a 2016 American comedy film directed by Ben Stiller and written by John Hamburg, Justin Theroux, Stiller, and Nick Stoller. It is the sequel to the 2001 film Zoolander and stars Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penélope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, and Fred Armisen. The story is simple: Derek and Hansel are modelling again when an opposing company attempts to take them out from the business. The score is written by Theodore Shapiro who seems to be everybody’s favorite composer when it comes to comedies these days.

Comedy scores are usually among the most difficult for me to enjoy and write about. Fortunately this one starts with an awesome chase cue that gets my blood going. I know that when I’ll see the movie the respective scene will be far less serious but the music makes me think of thrillers set in the Far East. I am ready to care about characters and get involved in the story. This cue is so good that I can even ignore the fact that it has Justin Bieber in the title. I don’t have time to catch my breath because the next cue is just as powerful and entertaining. “Who was” is a relentless rock piece that might just make it in my running playlists; it makes me think of stunts and epic action scenes. Alright Mr. Shapiro, well played.

Things get really serious in “Get your boy” and I need to check and see if I’m listening to the right score. After the opening action sequences the music gets emotional and I am getting really curious about what could be going on in the movie to ask for music like this. How can these cues that border on epic both in action and in emotion be fitting for “Zoolander”? I guess I’ll have to wait and see the movie. Maybe I actually got an advance copy of the new Jason Bourne score…

Then the almost Celtic vibes of “Too convenient”? The parallel universe feeling continues and I am waiting for the punchline of this score. Maybe you’re in the mood for a good old western theme? “Two-masted” has you covered. With every cue this score moves farther away from “Zoolander” and closer to being the most surprising album I’ve heard in a while. By the time “Mugatu’s escape” ends I’ve also discovered a theme that I love.

“Zoolander 2” relies on the skeleton of an action / espionage script. The movie covers this thin premise with gags and laughs and cameos. The music though had nowhere to hide; there are rarely gags in a film music score and cameos are impossible; the composer just stuck to the original premise and delivered a brilliant and adrenaline filled action score which I will definitely come back to. For once am happy I got the chance to experience the music before seeing the movie because in that context I might have missed what the score really wanted to tell me.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 31 / 50

Album excellence: 62%

Highlights:

01 Bieber Chase

02 Who Was

03 Get Your Boy

04 Change Is

05 Too Convenient

06 Two-masted

09 Mugatu’s Escape

10 Death Of Atari

12 Blood Of Steve

15 El Ninìƒo

16 All’s well

 

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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