By: Kaya Savas for film.music.media
Comedy is the hardest genre to score well. There isn't a fixed formula you can really follow since comedy is pretty subjective. Think of all your favorite comedies, and then think of the scores. Nothing specifically pops up, right? Sure there's scores like Elmer Bernstein's Airplane or more modernly Theodore Shapiro's Tropic Thunder, but to do a non-spoof movie right it takes some talent. Christopher Lennertz is without a doubt the best composer working today with the genre. Identity Thief is another prime example of how to score comedy right.
Music isn't funny. When has purely instrumental music on it's own made you laugh? If music tries to be funny then it comes across as goofy or childish. The music needs to live and breath with what's onscreen in order for the comedy to work, and in most cases the actual comedy doesn't need the music. For Identity Thief the score works wonders by having a large amount of character infused into the score. You can feel a personality behind the music, not just the music's own personality but the film's characters' personality. The music then becomes a story. Lennertz adds a few quirks with some instrumentation you don't normally hear. A touch of accordion can go a long way in giving the music a certain quality, and it works terrifically in a comedy. Lennertz incorporates the aria "Habenera" from Carmen beautifully into the weave of the score. The tune is very recognizable, but Lennertz arranges it in a way that works very well. John Powell did the same successfully in Rat Race by adding his own twist to "Habenera". Since this is a Seth Gordon comedy there's a bit of a serious twist and a real sense of danger for the characters. We get that in the music as well. The score incorporates action towards the final act, and then ends with a little heartfelt emotion. Looking at it, the score isn't complex. However in its simple approach with a freshly original sound it makes for a fantastic listen and comedic accompaniment to the film.
Identity Thief has everything Lennertz did so well in Horrible Bosses. I hope Seth Gordon continues collaborating with Lennertz for many films to come. The duo definitely click and the scores speak for themselves. If you really want to know how to approach a comedy then look no further than Christopher Lennertz. His versatility in every genre continues to astound me, as I've been such a fan of his music from the start of his career. I first discovered him in video games such as the Medal of Honor franchise and Gun (seriously, track down this music). With each and every score Christopher Lennertz proves his undeniable talent and ability. Identity Thief has character and a very unique identity (I just realized the pun as I was typing and I apologize profusely) that deserves to be heard.