Composer Rob Simonsen on Netflix’s “The Adam Project”

Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works.

What would you do if you could go back in time and talk to your 12-year-old self? What if you could also see a deceased loved one again? For all the blistering action-adventure packed into Ryan Reynolds’ latest film, The Adam Projectcomposer Rob Simonsen’s score never strays from these sentimental questions.

The next collaboration between Reynolds and director Shawn Levy after last year’s free guy, The Adam Project follows a time-traveling fighter pilot who flees his dystopian past to crash land in the year 2022. And who should he meet but his 12-year-old younger self, played by newcomer Walker Scobell, who accompanies him on a adventure not just to shake off future villains who are out to hunt him, but to reconnect with his long-dead father (Mark Ruffalo) and stop time travel altogether.

It’s a film steeped in the nostalgic vibe of 1980s Amblin, evoking everything from Flight of the Navigator at HEY, and it’s a guideline that Simonsen expertly handles. It’s a deceptively simple score, pairing crackling electronic synths for the high-tech action sequences with the quiet piano and orchestra of its main theme – keeping the CG show grounded in the aching staff.

Easy work for Simonsen, who has proven himself to be a versatile songwriter since coming on in the early 2010s with indies like The spectacular now and Quick Color. And earlier this year, he started the nostalgia pump well with his score for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Now he’s talking to me on the podcast today about his early work as a composer, the lessons he learned from mentor Mychael Danna, and the myriad ways COVID complicated the process of composing this film.

You can find Rob Simonsen on his official website here.

The Adam Project is currently streaming on Netflix. You can also listen to the score of The Adam Project on your favorite music streaming service courtesy of Milan Records.

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