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THE BUCKET LIST – Marc Shaiman

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been a while since the world had an original score by Marc Shaiman since he went off to write Hairspray and subsequently become the new darling of Broadway, but when Rob Reiner comes calling, Shaiman usually responds – and so we have The Bucket List, the latest cinematic collaboration between the two. The film stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two old men – both diagnosed with terminal illnesses – who make ‘the bucket list’, outlining the things they want to achieve before they shuffle off the mortal coil and kick the bucket. And so, the film follows their various misadventures as the pair escape from their cancer ward and subsequently tick off all the items on their list by going skydiving, driving stunt cars, traveling the world, and living their lives to the fullest before time runs out on them.

Shaiman’s score is sensitive, generally understated, and short, dancing around the more obvious opportunity to layer on the sugar, and instead revealing itself to be a quiet, but sentimental reflection on the dreams and regrets of old age. There’s an unexpected jazz element to much of the score, notably through the instrumental performances of trumpeter Chris Botti and saxophonist Dan Higgins. Cue such as “Like Smoke Through a Keyhole” and “Best in L.A.” have an interesting, sultry vibe completely at odds with kind of music you would expect in a film like this, although the slight sense of melancholy is actually quite appropriate for the subject matter.

The final few cues – “Life and Death”, “The Mountain”, “End Credits” – adopt a more orchestral approach than the others, and although they never quite reach the heights of the likes of The American President or Patch Adams, they still have that kind of sweeping beauty that Shaiman does so well.

Because the score itself is so short – less than half an hour – and being such a wit, Shaiman padded out the album with some ‘junk from his trunk’: a series of piano variations on themes from his own old movies like City Slickers, The Addams Family and Sleepless in Seattle, as well as a couple of songs, including the hilarious “Printmaster”, which features Shaiman himself lamenting the fact that the score he slaves over is being drowned out by car chases and explosions in the dubbing mix. Priceless!

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Hospital Hallway (0:49)
  • Like Smoke Through a Keyhole (1:59)
  • Best in L.A. (1:21)
  • Really Bad News (1:50)
  • La Vie en Rose (2:26)
  • Hotel Source (1:14)
  • Did You Hear It? (2:24)
  • Flying Home (1:17)
  • Homecomings (3:29)
  • Life and Death (3:54)
  • The Mountain (2:22)
  • End Credits (3:54)
  • Junk from Shaiman’s Trunk (22:58)

Running Time: 49 minutes 58 seconds

Varese Sarabande VSD-6877 (2007)

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