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Soundtrack review: Duck Duck Goose (Mark Isham – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Duck Duck Goose (Mark Isham – 2018)



“Duck Duck Goose” is a 2018 computer-animated comedy film directed by Chris Jenkins and starring the voices of Jim Gaffigan, Zendaya and Carl Reiner. A bachelor goose must form a bond with two lost ducklings as they journey south. Mark Isham wrote the score.

Mark Isham has been among my favorite composers for many, many years, even if there have been scores of his I found a bit lacking; but ever since “The accountant” a couple of years ago he has been on fire, with great score after great score, regardless of story or genre so I couldn’t wait for his animation composition as well. It’s an opportunity to step out of his usually moody and often dark sound. Indeed straight from the opening theme, which is short of sweet, joy floods the atmosphere and with just a subtle touch of Oriental strings I am already bobbing my head trying to follow the accords. The brass section is vivacious and infectious and, above all, fun. Then come the delightful woodwinds, once again with a slight Asian vibe and it didn’t take more than 5 minutes for this score to put me in a very good mood. The Asian influence reminds me of Hans Zimmer’s “Kung-fu Panda” scores.

The score is made of short, usually no longer than 2 minutes, bits that leave no time for fillers; besides, who could be bore listening to such a positive, expansive and ultimately rich orchestral score? Each little cue is a gem in itself and the score is warm and comfortable to listen to; there are no rough edges, no uncomfortable sounds, no electronics, nothing out of place. I get that playful, sometimes goofy, other times emotional vibe that can do no wrong on an animation score. It’s really a side of Mark Isham’s music that is rarely explored and I am happy to see him join the animation fray with such a bang. Master of jazzy moods that he is, here he just knocks an orchestral score out of the park.

Scores like “Duck duck goose” make it easier for me to forget my difficulties in enjoying animations scores; like Atli Orvarsson’s “Ploey” from earlier this year, this one just brims with playfulness and charm and with the focus on them, the brass instruments and the woodwind do not disappoint. From the danger / panic musical moments to the wonderfully written moments of triumph, this is a score to keep close for when you need a quick and intense dose of joy.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Birds of a Feather
Does it Have to Be a V?
Holding You Up
The New Mom
A Cat in the Hen House
Really Flying
The Road Not Taken
The Long Way Home

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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