From acclaimed graphic novelist Dash Shaw (New School) comes an audacious debut that is equal parts disaster cinema, high school comedy and blockbuster satire, told through a dream-like mixed media animation style that incorporates drawings, paintings and collage. Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and his best friend Assaf (Reggie Watts) are preparing for another year at Tides High School muckraking on behalf of their widely-distributed but little-read school newspaper, edited by their friend Verti (Maya Rudolph). But just when a blossoming relationship between Assaf and Verti threatens to destroy the boys’ friendship, Dash learns of the administration’s cover-up that puts all the students in danger. As disaster erupts and the friends race to escape through the roof of the school, they are joined by a popular know-it- all (Lena Dunham) and a lunch lady (Susan Sarandon) who is much more than meets the eye. Rani Sharone wrote the score.
The opening cue “Catch the bus” makes me think I’m playing a game like “Super Mario” or something similar with the simple and cheery electronic beat. I have expect coins to start popping up. The atmosphere the composer sets right from the start fits the varies assortment of elements and genres in the movie. The first few cues are light and sound slapstick even. Once the music settles down I am enjoying it more as almost ambient cues like “Basement” and “Thesaurus” make for a more coherent listening experience. What is clear about this score is that the cues are sharp enough and fun enough to keep me interested. With light comedic scores the risk is that the music might lose me and start to frustrate me at some point; it’s not the case here as I am curious about what electronic or even techno arcade game vibe the composer can come up with next. I am having fun listening to “My entire highschool sinking in the sea” because even the music seems like a satire.
The best way to describe this score is as a light retro background soundscape that is fun at times, intriguing at other moments which for sure works even better as a companion to the on screen shenanigans. I love the 80s electronic inserts that remind me of video games (the funky “Hallway run” and “Senior year” in particular) but overall I think the score would have worked better in a smaller, more concentrated dose, somewhere around 30 minutes instead of the full hour, maybe the last 30 minutes of the score overall where the best retro sounding part are. The best cue is without a doubt the 9 minutes long “Grimm’s mistake” and a couple of more suites like this one and I would have loved the score even more. Even so, Rani Sharone’s composition gives me an always welcomed nostalgia fix. Nothing more fitting than it’s cue rating being 80(s).
Cue rating: 80 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 57
Album excellence: 42%