|Music and Lyrics (2007)
Starring: Hugh Grant,
Drew Barrymore, Brad Garrett, Kristen Johnston, Haley Bennett, Aasif
Mandvi, Campbell Scott
Director: Marc Lawrence
There is a terrific little movie somewhere inside “Music and Lyrics,” one that lovingly pokes fun at songwriters and the people who worship them. Sadly, this isn’t it. For a romantic comedy, it’s not particularly romantic, nor is it as funny as it has the potential to be. The ingredients are certainly there: few actors meet cuter than Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, and the music was supervised by a member of Fountains of Wayne. However, writer/director Marc Lawrence, despite an abundance of experience serving as what appears to be Sandra Bullock’s manservant (check his IMDb filmography), loses control of the pacing early on – a difficult task for a movie that’s only 96 minutes in length – and never regains it.
Grant stars as Alex Fletcher, the former member of a very popular ‘80s band called Pop. Alex is having increasing difficulty surviving on his former glory, reduced to performing at high school reunions and amusement parks to throngs of middle-aged women. He receives a break when current pop star Cora (newcomer Haley Bennett) asks Alex to submit a song for potential inclusion on her new album. The catch is that Alex can’t write lyrics to save his life, so he needs a lyricist and quick. As it turns out, Sophie (Barrymore), the replacement for the girl who waters Alex’s plants, is a natural at rhyme schemes without even realizing it. As Alex soon discovers, Sophie’s only pretending to not realize her talent. Like Alex, Sophie watched someone else rise to success at her expense, and still suffers the emotional scars.
Perhaps the movie feels like such a letdown because the opening credits, which feature a dead-perfect imitation of a mid-‘80s music video (for Pop’s smash hit single “Pop Goes My Heart”), are as good as the movie gets. Bennett is always good for a laugh as the pretty/vacant Shakira clone Cora (the scene of her listening to Alex and Sophie’s song for the first time is how awkward humor ought to be done), but she doesn’t get enough face time to save the day. The song parodies throughout the movie are spot-on, particularly the sax-drenched ballad “Meaningless Kiss” (Wham! fans will spot the similarity instantly). The story, however, is lacking. Even if you like Grant and Barrymore, and they are easy to like, there isn’t much in the way of chemistry between them, though that is less to do with the actors than the roles they’re playing. The script thrusts them together under unlikely circumstances, and it forces them apart in much the same way, making it difficult to get emotionally invested in either of them. Before long, I found myself clamoring for another music video, and ironically, I got my wish over the closing credits, which replays “Pop Goes My Heart” with “Pop-Up Video”-style trivia boxes.
Your girlfriend or wife, however, is probably going to really like “Music and Lyrics.” It is far from the top of the rom-com pantheon, but compared to “Because I Said So,” “Norbit,” “The Messengers” “Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girl” and “Ghost Rider,” it’s the only sane choice in an insane multiplex. An even saner choice, however, is to rent “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” instead.
The single-disc release of “Music & Lyrics” isn’t exactly jam-packed with special features, but it does contain the usual extras including deleted scenes, a making-of featurette (“Note for Note”) and gag reel. Also included is the PoP music video for “PoP! Goes My Heart” and trailers aplenty.