I should begin this review with the warning that I am very much not the target audience for Marley & Me in any of its incarnations, be it book, movie, or soundtrack. That said, I’ve given the motion picture score a listen, and here’s what I thought.
Marley & Me is the romantic comedy opening Christmas Day, in which Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston adopt an adorable pup, only to find that it’s a holy terror. Zaniness ensues, and eventually the rascally hound becomes an inseparable member of their family. Theodore Shapiro wrote the score for the film, a surprising composer to me, as he also scored Tropic Thunder, which John reviewed earlier this year. After checking up on Shapiro’s resume, however, I saw that he’s handled a wide variety of movie scores, from The Devil Wears Prada to Old School to Starsky & Hutch. He has a lot of Owen Wilson vehicles under his belt, so Marley & Me really isn’t a stretch for him at all.
Based on the music, my expectations for Marley & Me are unchanged from when I first saw the trailer. The score is generally light-hearted with touches of heartwarming melodies here and there. Every once in a while (surely in scenes that involve Owen Wilson running and stumbling after his recalcitrant pooch), Shapiro kicks the score into full-on “zaniness ensues” mode, resulting in some fairly cookie cutter melodies that properly let us know that said zaniness has indeed ensued.
By and large, the soundtrack is exactly what you’d expect from a movie like Marley & Me. There are humorous cues, touching moments, and lots of warm instrumentals that end up sounding very similar to each other. I don’t fault Shapiro for the sameness as much as I suspect that I just am not the right person for this movie or this music. At one point, the score even reminded me of the auto-bossa nova track that would play when you’d hit a certain button on my old Casio keyboard. I’m just not one who can appreciate that sort of music. Bossa nova Casio aside, there’s some good orchestration here that combines electric guitars with more traditional movie orchestral arrangements.
The Marley & Me soundtrack accomplishes what it sets out to do, and if you like this kind of movie or appreciate this genre of movie music, you just might enjoy the CD. If you’re like me, however, you wouldn’t be remiss in giving this one a pass.
The Marley & Me soundtrack releases on December 16 from Lakeshore Records.