As is so often with films these days, there is an expected style of scoring and the director will know roughly what they want and the get some variation on it. Any coming of age story with a boy and his cute dog was bound to be by turns sentimental, fun and perhaps a short section with a tiny bit of peril. Of course that's exactly what you get; a mixture of James Horner or Alan Silvestri twinkling pianos and a dash of Marc Shaiman sentimental strings. This is of course no particularly bad thing and while it's nice to get something a little more inventive from time to time, it's occasionally nice to just have something that's well written and just an easy pleasure.
From the word go, we are in twinkling piano territory, which is now a mandetory requirement for a bit of subtle sentimentality, I blame Forrest Gump, personally.... Having said that, when the proper main theme does kick in, what it reminds me of is Horner's If We Hold On Together theme from his superb Land Before Time. It is wrought in an equally sweeping way, which possibly seems a bit too large for such an intimate sounding film. Still, it is a rather nice variation on an equally lovely original.
Moments of comedy are provided on occasion, most notably in Driving with Skip which reminds me of something else, but I can't quite place it. Greenwood Cemetery comes as rather a strong change in direction which only lasts for the duration of the cue. This is more of a mild horror/suspense type effort which curiously reminds me of Silvestri's pounding Judge Dredd; very strange. After this, the music settles into gently nostalgic strings, piano and woodwind combinations. Slight variation is provided by some rather more American style music in Opening Day which seems to have taken a leaf from Saving Private Ryan of all things with some of the woodwind and gentle Copland-esque brass fanfares. Will Strikes Out starts with low key guitar and strings, but builds into a fabulously triumphal moment that is certainly another highlight. The final nine minute cues gives the score a Horner style long cue send off that reprises all the main theme and brings procedings to an immensely satisfying conclusion.
The recording by Robert Fernandez is especially fine, which lets the brass shine when it appears, but keeps the rest in soft focus nostalgia. My Dog Skip falls into that annoying catergory of scores - one that far too many fall into for my liking - that is so absolutely lovely, delightful to listen to, tunes that repeat (but not too often) and the occasional really lovely moment, but for all that isn't exactly breaking any new ground in any way. However, I'd admit that as a listening experience, My Dog Skip is going to satisfy all but the most hard hearted. The more sentimental will probably be crying buckets by the end of the final cue. As such, anyone who is a fan of the above mentioned composers, I'd strongly recommend the score and hope that Ross gets a few more high profile assignments. He certainly has the right idea, presses all the sentimental, thrilling and comedic dramatic buttons and delivers tuneful, well wrought, sincere and charming music; sincerity perhaps a quality lacking in so many modern scores I think.