by William Ruhlmann
In the first decade of the 21st century, film score composer Theodore Shapiro (aka Teddy Shapiro) became the go-to guy for movie comedies starring the major comic actors of the time, including Ben Stiller, Will Farrell, and Owen Wilson. He was born Theodore Michael Shapiro on September 29, 1971, in Washington, D.C., and earned a B.A. in music from Brown University, then a masters from the Juilliard School of Music. In 1993, he scored episodes of the television series The State. His first film score came with the crime drama Hurricane Streets in 1998; his first comedy was Safe Men later that same year. In 1999, he scored the comedy Six Ways to Sunday and the boxing documentary On the Ropes (along with Ray "Web" Davis). The drama Restaurant was released in early 2000, followed that year by the adventure film Prince of Central Park; another film taking boxing as its subject, Girlfight; and, at the end of the year, the David Mamet comedy State and Main. In 2001, Shapiro scored Wet Hot American Summer, Heist, and Not Another Teen Movie. His only film of 2002 was Love in the Time of Money, but in 2003 he had two comedy scores, Old School (with Luke Wilson, Will Farrell, and Vince Vaughn) and View from the Top. No less than four comedies followed in 2004: Along Came Polly (Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston); Starsky & Hutch (Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn); 13 Going on 30; and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn). In 2005, Shapiro scored the comedies The Baxter and Fun with Dick and Jane (Jim Carrey), and in 2006 the comedies The Devil Wears Prada; You, Me and Dupree (Owen Wilson); and Idiocracy (Luke Wilson). Bug, released in early 2007, was more of a drama than a comedy, but Blades of Glory (Will Farrell), which followed shortly, was played for laughs; Shapiro also scored Mr. Woodcock and The Girl in the Park that year. His three movies of 2008 were Semi-Pro (Will Farrell), Tropic Thunder (Ben Stiller, Jack Black), and Marley & Me (Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston), and in 2009 he had I Love You, Man, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and Year One (Jack Black).
Because so many of his films were comedies, Shapiro was often called upon to write pastiche music -- send-ups, in effect, of conventional movie music, and with his extensive knowledge of movie history, he did this well, notably in his music for Tropic Thunder, a satire of war movies. Also, since contemporary comedies tend to employ contemporary pop source music, his background scores often had to compete with interpolated hit songs, not only in the films themselves, but also on the soundtrack albums, such that he was not as well represented on disc as some of his peers. His scores were featured on albums for State and Main, Fun with Dick and Jane, Idiocracy, Blades of Glory, Tropic Thunder, Marley & Me, and Year One, and some of his music was included on albums for Six Ways to Sunday, On the Ropes, Restaurant, Girlfight, Starsky & Hutch, The Baxter, and I Love You, Man . But, whether they were billed as "original motion picture soundtrack" albums or albums containing "music from the motion picture," the discs for Not Another Teen Movie, View from the Top, 13 Going on 30, The Devil Wears Prada, You, Me and Dupree, Bug, and Semi-Pro were all various-artists collections of songs, devoid of Shapiro's scoring. (Blades of Glory and Tropic Thunder had both score albums and albums of pop songs.)