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Masterminds by Geoff Zanelli (Review)

posted Sep 30, 2016, 4:07 PM by Kaya Savas

Geoff Zanelli has proven himself to be one hell of a versatile composer. The man can bounce between genres effortlessly while still providing his signature sound to make the score unique. He’s proven this with his body of work by giving us a wide range of scores such as Disturbia, Hitman, Outlander, Into The West, The Odd Life Of Timothy Green, Mortdecai and the upcoming Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Here with Masterminds, Geoff gets to flex his action comedy chops and gives us a well-rounded experience that tries its best to keep this comedy grounded somewhat in reality with a little over the top flair.

Masterminds comes to us from director Jared Hess, and on the outside it definitely seems like one of those movies that went through a bunch of re-cuts to find the right tone. There’s always a reason if the studio doesn't screen a movie for critics, and that act in itself is usually a red flag that the studio didn't know how to market it. Luckily the film embraces its ridiculousness and makes it work, very much like how Hess did so in Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. Here the story itself is actually based off a true bank heist story, but of course by hiring some of the biggest names in comedy to star in it you can tell it’s meant to take things into pure hyper stylized comedic territory. Geoff’s score plays out in approach very similarly to Carter Burwell’s Burn After Reading, not in style but just approach. The music is what these people are probably hearing in their minds as they try to execute a bank heist but in reality are just a bunch of morons. The music does a great job of building a bank heist modern caper sound, heavy on electric guitar for action and then some light flourish for the “stealth” factor. Like how Shapiro approaches his comedy scores like Spy, this music is not trying to be funny. The score is merely meant to pepper the film with some seriousness to heighten the comedy, and in that regard it succeeds as an entertaining diversion.

Masterminds is not masterful by any means, but it’s Geoff Zanelli executing a well-rounded action/heist score to elevate the comedic effect of a bunch of goofballs pulling off a bank heist. As with all good comedy scoring, the music never is “funny” and it leaves the actual comedy to the actors and the dialogue. The score is a short 30 minutes, but it does exactly what it needed to do. It never saturates the soundscape of the film to become over the top, but is present just enough to give the film its personality. This is just pure fun from Zanelli, and the comedy in the film works better because of it.