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Better Living Through Chemistry by Andrew Feltenstein & John Nau (Review)

posted May 17, 2014, 3:52 PM by Kaya Savas

Andrew Feltenstein & John Nau are a composing duo who are relatively new to the movie scene. Their known scores are for Casa De Mi Padre and Anchorman 2, which were two films that really didn’t allow for any score cohesiveness. With Better Living Through Chemistry we finally get a chance to hear what these two can deliver. What we have here is a very impressive score that has one of the more unique sounds and approaches you’ll hear all year. In this dark comedy about a pharmacists life spiraling out of control after getting involved in drugs and affairs, we get a score that sets the right tone. Even if there is a lacking narrative structure here musically we still get an immensely absorbing score. 

The score immediately has that Quincy Jones/Henry Mancini feel of the 60’s to start things off. It’s a jazzy fusion that oozes style. That quickly peels away for the score’s true sound, which is more of an acoustic indie-comedy feel. The essence still retains that jazzy feel, but because this comedy evolves into some darker moments the music never is too bouncy or light. We get gently guided to some more “serious” tracks that highlight chaos and things getting out of control. The tone of this film is along the lines of Very Bad Things so keep that in mind when I say comedy. The score however never bounces back from that charm we had in the beginning, which was brilliant. You can tell the music is going for a certain quirkiness, and it achieves it rather successfully. However, the whole thing is rather void of an emotional connection. The music is concluded nicely in a tight simple package. It’s only a 30-minute score, and with that little time it was still able to accomplish a sufficient narrative accompaniment.

Better Living Through Chemistry really gives us a better look at what Andrew Feltenstein & John Nau have to offer, and it’s good. I can’t wait to hear them grow because they definitely bring something new to the table. It’s just here there isn’t much beyond setting a pleasant sounding score to give the minimal amount of narrative support needed.