This 2002 pairing between director Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendents) and Jack Nicholson earned the latter a well-deserved Oscar nomination – his twelfth – as a retired insurance actuary whose road trip in a Winnebago to dissuade his daughter (Hope Davis) from a bad marriage becomes an existential journey through life’s foibles and regrets. Kathy Bates costars in the adaptation of the popular 1996 Louis Begley novel. In the second of his three collaborations with Payne, British-born composer Rolfe Kent strikes an offbeat, melancholic pose that elaborates on his work in Election while foreshadowing similar strains in Sideways. With themes inspired by Schmidt’s erratic but earnest state of mind, the buoyant, bouncy score incorporates a variety of instrumental approaches – from string orchestra to folk ensemble – ultimately coloring the road trip with the kind of infectious eclecticism that has become Kent’s hallmark. Earnest, hopeful tracks like “The Adventurer” and “Schmidt Revisits His Alma Mater” meld with quirky, provincial tracks like “Randall’s Room,” “Shopping with Schmidt” and “Dinner with Randall’s Relatives,” setting a tone in which more heartfelt, emotional tracks like “Missing Helen” and “Riverside Prayer” find a comfortable, meaningful place.