Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius

Colosseum (4005939657727)
Varèse Sarabande (0030206657722)
Movie | Released: 2004 | Format: CD, Download

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# Track   Duration
1.St. Andrews7:16
2.Baby Strokes4:05
3.The First Lesson4:39
4.Not Just a Game Anymore3:05
5.Destined for Greatness6:52
6.The Painful Secret3:42
7."A Win, Finally!"3:36
8.Playing the Odds6:07
9."He's On a Roll Now"2:03
10.The Shot of a Lifetime4:47
11.Living the Dream10:26
12.End Credits6:42
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Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius - 08/10 - Review of Andreas Lindahl, submitted at
Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius is in many way a return to the Horner scores of the 1990's. Sure, it's not that long ago, but Horner's style has evolved rather much since then. Bobby Jones has more in common with Braveheart, The Devil's Own and Deep Impact than with Horner's recent scores, such as The Missing and House of Sand and Fog. Especially Braveheart, which is a score Horner's Bobby Jones music draws a lot of ideas from. Not only the Celtic sound, with its large ensemble of Irish instruments - Uilleann pipes, bodhran drum, whistle and dulcimer, for example - but also when it comes to themes. Horner occasionally quotes the Sons of Scotland theme from Braveheart in his Bobby Jones score - but more about that later. And the Braveheart-ish strings and French horn solos appear several times.

But Bobby Jones is actually a rather original score, although brimful with Horner's typical sound. It is in many ways Horner on autopilot, but the composer luckily avoids many of his most overused trademarks, such as the four note danger motif and the bad habit to accentuate the end of every phrase with a low rumbling chord. Thank God.

The Celtic elements work pretty well, sometimes visiting Braveheart territory ("St. Andrews" and "Not Just a Game Anymore"), but also revisiting the more upbeat music heard in the composer's score for The Devil's Own ("Destined for Greatness" and "A Win, Finally").

The thematic material is a bit uneven. What I suppose is the score's love theme is the most memorable one and is allowed to shine in "Not Just a Game Anymore", which is one of the best tracks this soundtrack has to offer. Rather reminiscent of "The Princess Pleads for Wallace's Life" from Braveheart, this is an absolutely lovely rendition of the theme, performed by whistle and strings, backed up by woodwinds and harp. Very beautiful in its simplicity. Another memorable appearance occurs in the "End Credits" track, where it is performed by acoustic guitar, supported by soft strings. I'm a sucker for Horner's love themes, and although this one perhaps isn't one of Horner's best it's still really good. The main theme is also pretty decent and shows up in many different settings and versions throughout the score. And then there's the Braveheart theme. Although it's not note for note, it's darn close and it's just impossible to not think about Braveheart whenever it appears. Annoying.

Anoter annoying element is Horner's tendency to build and build towards a climax that, for some reason, never comes. When I sit through several minutes of building, climbing strings I expect some kind of "reward" towards the end. In Bobby Jones this reward has a tendency to be... silence. I can almost picture Horner giggling while writing it. "Fooled you! Ha!"

But apart from that, Bobby Jones is a decent score, with a couple of really good moments. This is in many ways what Horner does best, i.e. scores for movies focusing on characters instead of explosions. And Horner skillfully walks the tightrope between beauty and sentimental sugar. Don't expect any huge orchestral statements, because there really aren't any in Bobby Jones. What you get instead is a warm and sometimes very optimistic and playful score, with small elements of tension.
Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius - 05/10 - Review of Tom Daish, submitted at
Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius tells the inspiring story of the world's greatest fluffer, who was able to bring to life even the laziest of performers. However, it seems unusual that an entire film would be made about him, let alone star Jim Cavizel - best known for starring as the most tortured Jesus in the history of cinema in The Passion of the Christ - and have a score by James Horner. Then again, this kind of melodramatic story seems ideal for James Horner and for him to trot out some of his favourite Celtic instruments. St Andrews sets the tone immediately, with the now familiar bagpipes which more conjure up Mel Gibson in blue paint than the genteel world of fluffing; indeed Braveheart seems to provide the basis for much of the music's tone and occasionally its content. This is first obvious in Baby Strokes (bit of a dodgy title given the subject matter) where the melody from Braveheart's finale makes one of several disconcerting appearances.

Fortunately, the main theme is fairly strong on its own and works well in either broad strokes (as it were) or in a more light hearted setting. It even sounds good on whistle and Celtic percussion. While not as strongly related, Not Just a Game Any More suggests the haunting melody for Murren, again from Braveheart, but it never quite matches the original's mournful beauty. The Painful Secret (and I'm sure you could have a few being a fluffer) is the score's first really dramatic turn, although in truth it doesn't add much that we've not heard before from the composer. With The Shot of a Lifetime, the film and music starts to reach its climax, which is a nice change of pace after the rather somnambulant middle section, although Living the Dream hardly sets the world alight, especially when the finale from Braveheart makes another unscheduled and inappropriate appearance halfway through.

The End Credits neatly encapsulate all of the major material, indeed, one could hear those seven minutes and be satisfied that nothing notable has been missed. Horner has a nice line in scores for biopics, notably Searching for Bobby Fischer and Iris, but Bobby Jones is considerably more mundane. Yes, it has a nice main theme, but the Braveheart lifts are quite intrusive, especially when they form the basis for entire cues. There's nothing inherently wrong with the score as a whole, but nothing especially sticks in the mind after its over and, despite the main theme being fairly good, it's the Braveheart moments that most people will remember. Fans of the composer will find enough to enjoy, but for everyone else, Horner has done this kind of thing better elsewhere. Mind you, I can't for the life of me think why there's a picture of a man playing golf on the cover.

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