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THE BROTHERS SOLOMON – John Swihart

September 7, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An oddball movie starring Saturday Night Live veterans Will Arnett and Will Forte, The Brothers Solomon was a film about getting pregnant – or, more specifically, the Solomon brothers getting someone else pregnant. The Wills star as John and Dean Solomon, a pair of well-meaning, but socially inept brothers who, in order to provide their dying father (Lee Majors) with a grandchild, embark on a quest to find their perfect mates – two women who will, as the movie’s tagline suggests, be amenable to the brothers “putting a baby in them”.

This peculiar, slightly sinister-sounding movie was scored by up-and-coming comedy composer John Swihart, whose career has been in the ascendancy since he wrote the music for the cult hit Napoleon Dynamite in 2004. Unfortunately, if The Brothers Solomon is anything to go by, I can’t see him developing much further. This score is the epitome of the inconsequential, “stinger” comedy score: although there are 32 cues on Lakeshore’s album, just two of them run for more than one minute, and an amazing eight have a total time of 20 seconds or less. How can a composer ever be expected to have any kind of thematic consistency, or any kind of nuanced musical development when cues end almost as soon as they have begun? Composers like Elmer Bernstein have proved on numerous occasions that stupid comedies don’t have to have stupid scores; Swihart’s thinking seems to have been the polar opposite of this.

The score is generally orchestral, with prominent acoustic guitars and jazzy inflections, and features the cooing vocal work of the folk-inspired LA-based vocal group The Ditty Bops, and is generally light, upbeat and playful, but it’s almost impossible to generate any kind of feel for the score when it’s so haphazard, spotty and schizophrenic. The opening cue, “Bull Headed Brother”, is pretty enough with the Ditty Bops singing lighthearted la-las and doo-doos on top of a sweet string and guitar backing, but thereafter the score is pretty much all stingers and little snippets of thematic material: a rhumba in “The Negotiator”, a twinkly glockenspiel interlude in “Dad Flashback”, heavy punk rock in “Find That Baby”, and so on.

The longest cue, the four-minute epic “Sky Writing”, is an attractive piece for guitar, strings, The Ditty Bops, and flighty flutes, and shows what kind of music Swihart might be capable of writing in an extended form. Overall, the music itself isn’t half bad – in fact, if it were developed further, it could be considered to be upbeat and catchy – but the music switches styles so frequently and so fast it’s more like listening to a composer’s sampler CD rather than an actual cohesive score, and that’s what brings the score down.

Rating: *½

Track Listing:

  • The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (performed by The Flaming Lips) (4:55)
  • Mornings Eleven (performed by The Magic Numbers) (5:31)
  • St. Elmo’s Fire (Acoustic) (performed by John Parr) (5:22)
  • Almost Paradise (performed by Ann Wilson & Mike Reno) (3:31)
  • Bull Headed Brother (1:28)
  • The Negotiator (0:40)
  • Baby Toss (0:11)
  • Fire Escape (0:36)
  • Baby-Proof Apartment (0:32)
  • Lamaze Class (0:40)
  • To Janine’s (0:23)
  • Sofa Talk (0:23)
  • Losers (0:18)
  • Dad Flashback (0:57)
  • Dead Birth & Popcorn (0:27)
  • Delivery (0:40)
  • Find That Baby (0:23)
  • First Trimester (0:06)
  • Grandson (0:49)
  • How Long (0:25)
  • I’ll Tell You Tomorrow (0:28)
  • Janine’s Right Behind You (0:57)
  • John Storms Out (0:45)
  • Let’s Do This (0:41)
  • My Father’s Dying (0:41)
  • Ode to Fish (0:49)
  • Of Course (0:31)
  • Oh My God (0:40)
  • Proud (0:40)
  • Racing to Meet Janine (0:11)
  • Second Trimester (0:06)
  • Sky Writing (4:29)
  • Sleeping Bags (0:28)
  • Tara Flush (0:36)
  • To the Vid Store (0:29)
  • You Get a Baby (0:19)
  • Your New Grandson (0:20)

Running Time: 41 minutes 27 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-339272 (2007)

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