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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Soundtrack Review: #Zoolander2

Much like the film, Composer Theodore Shapiro's score fails to find its pulse.

Review by Matt Cummings

A seriously good soundtrack starts with a message, something that binds the music to the film. Think Star Wars. James Bond. Unfortunately, Zoolander No. 2 - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is lacking that element, instead riding a wave of set up music and never quite reaching its potential.

When world famous pop stars are murdered by a shadowy organization, Interpol Agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz) suspects that their final poses on Instagram look suspiciously like those of fashion icon Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller). Unfortunately, he's been out of reach for over a decade, living in seclusion after losing the rights to his child and witnessing the death of his wife. His friend Hansel (Owen Wilson) has also been living away from the runway, now a part of a multi-marriage family in the desert. But when the two are offered a chance to return to the fashion limelight, they find themselves mocked as hasbeens. Determined to reunite with his son, Zoolander, Hansel, and Valentina join forces to uncover the mastermind behind the murders, which might include their nemesis Mugatu (Will Ferrell).

Composer Theordore Shapiro (Trumbo, The Devil Wears Prada) certainly knows how to bring winning scores to the big screen. With a film like Z2, it's important to continue the high-stakes hilarity, all while making things look as deadly serious as possible. In fact, his work here would have succeeded in most action spy flicks and felt completely at home next to martinis, spy gear, and beautiful but damaged women. We saw the same happen with 2015's Penguins of Madagascar, but it works better there. I think the answer is surrounded by the fact that No. 2 doesn't have a musical theme. Sure, it could have borrowed elements from Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Wham!, but that's hardly enough to build a score around. So while it might be clearer why Shapiro chose otherwise, the results are still flat.

Bieber Chase and Get Your Boy arrive ready to say something, but each find themselves lacking that theme. By the time the fourth track Change Is arrives, we've settled right back down into set up music rather than stretching out our feet to enjoy some great orchestral soundtracks. The same happens with Too Convenient and the National Treasure 2-inspired Confessional. With the latter, we get another taste of Shapiro's skills right around 2:00 in, when you think there's finally something big coming. Although it arrives soon after the good feelings don't stick around enough for us to enjoy them. Ditto for Blood of Steve at 1:15.

No. 2 might be good music to drown out the day's mayhem, but it won't inspire you. I've enjoyed Shapiro's work over the years, having overplayed 2015's Spy and enjoyed every minute of it. Zoolander No. 2 - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack doesn't hit that mark; and much like the film, this score is sure to be quickly replaced.

Zoolander No. 2 - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is available everywhere.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.


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