If you can find humor in a sea of tragedy, you can overcome just about anything. That’s what “The Office” comedian Jenna Fischer does in “A Little Help,” a new comedy/drama film about loss, single parenthood, and what it means to be a family.
Though typical comedies like “The Hangover” and “Hall Pass” inspire knee slapping laughter, “A Little Help” amuses because of its realness, the flick’s composer Austin Wintory believes. (RELATED: ‘The Office’ star offers to be Gingrich’s campaign manager)
“The movie is actually kind of quite funny but in a very real way,” Wintory told The Daily Caller. “It’s not like a comedy like ‘The Hangover,’ but it’s a comedy like ‘Juno’ or ‘Sideways’ where it creates these glimpses of real life that are funny because you watch it and feel like, ‘Oh God, I’ve been there,’ or ‘My family is like that.’ It’s funny but also poignant and touching.”
“A Little Help,” which opened in theaters July 22, is the story of a dental hygienist named Laura (played by Fischer) during the post 9-11 summer of 2002. Though she never gets drunk, Laura enjoys being buzzed, perhaps to ease the pain of having a cheating husband and rude 10-year-old son Dennis (portrayed by Daniel Yelsky).
As if life isn’t enough of a struggle, Laura’s spouse suddenly passes away from a heart abnormality, leaving her to comfort their surly child. The plot complicates when Dennis lies to classmates that his father died on September 11. Laura lets this slide but continues to strive for family normalcy and stability.
Regardless of its unfortunate turn of events, “A Little Help” isn’t totally sad, Wintory contends.
“It’s really not a full-on drama because it’s just kind of absurd, but in a very, very real way, not some kind of over the top way,” Wintory said.
Wintory coordinated his score with Jakob Dylan, the son of legendary singer Bob Dylan. Sony/Columbia released the soundtrack on July 19th; Wintory and singer Celeigh Chapman teamed up to write track six, “I’m Lucky.”
“I had fun writing kind of a weird little score and I got to write an original song, so I was very excited when [the movie] finally made it’s way into the world,” Wintory said, adding that he believes the film can succeed in the long term.
Asked about big-time celebrity Jenna Fischer, Wintory said his interactions with the star were for the most part limited to watching her work.
“She really impressed me [with her performance],” Wintory said. “I knew her from ‘The Office’ and thought she was very good at it, but that’s one character … But in this movie, she’s nothing like her character on ‘The Office,’ and she’s truly excellent.”
Wintory still got to meet the leading lady, though, whom he considers as a “sweetheart.”
“We got to chat a little bit at the premiere, where she was very pregnant. It was good,” Wintory said, adding that developing a film score gives the composer some insight on each performer. “As I got deeper and deeper into the footage [of Fischer], I realized she was a truly, truly excellent actress.”
Describing “A Little Help” as a “very musical film,” Wintory says music plays in nearly every scene in some way or another.
As for the film’s overall music tone, it “runs the gamut,” as Wintory describes it.
“It parallels her journey … It really does run the full span of what she goes through,” Wintory said. “The scene of the funeral reception of her husband is done in a very comedic ironic way where the camera wanders through the reception listening to all these people talking about themselves and in no way talking about the husband, so the music is a quirky, almost waltz, but a waltz for a rock band with a banjo and kind of an odd ensemble.”
WATCH: Trailer for “A Little Help”