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"Music and Lyrics" Movie Review

Grab a Date and Hum Along with "Music and Lyrics"

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By

Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant in "Music and Lyrics."

© Warner Bros Pictures
The first romantic comedy of the year (Catch and Release) hit too many bad notes. The second one (Because I Said So) was so painful to watch that listening to a full concert by William Hung would have been a better way to spend an evening. And now, a mere seven weeks into 2007, Warner Bros Pictures tests the semi-crowded romantic comedy waters with Music and Lyrics. After two stinkeroos, fans of the much-maligned genre finally have reason to stand up and sing.

Hugh Grant stars as Alex Fletcher, a has-been pop singer from a Wham!-ish ‘80s group who earns a living cashing in on his former success by singing at amusement parks, tiny concert venues, and the occasional high school reunion. Alex is actually satisfied with his present state of minor fame, but his business manager/friend (Brad Garrett) knows Alex has still got a few notes left to hit in his career before he’s relegated to the land of pop obscurity.

A surprising opportunity emerges for Alex to regain a little of his prior fame when pop tartlet Cora Corman (Haley Bennett as a Britney clone complete with skimpy outfits and erotic dance moves) proclaims her love for his old songs and wants him to come up with a new tune for her current concert tour. The catch – he’s only got a couple of days to write the song. Further complicating his comeback hopes is the fact he writes music, but not lyrics.

That huge problem is solved when plant lady Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore) throws out a few lines while in the process of watering his plants to death. It seems Sophie wanted to be a writer at one point but was persuaded she didn’t have any talent by her college professor (a real slimebag played by non-slimebag Campbell Scott). Alex needs Sophie to put words to his music and, if they can manage to work together without driving each other crazy, there’s a possibility this could be the break both are desperately in need of…

Scott Porter and Hugh Grant in "Music and Lyrics."

© Warner Bros Pictures
Music and Lyrics benefits from charming performances by the ever-dependable romantic comedy veterans Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. Grant and Barrymore make sweet music together (it’s sappy, but true) in this fluffy, feel-good movie. And for the first time on film we get to watch Hugh Grant dance, sing and play the piano, and surprisingly he does all three fairly well. Just seeing Grant in '80s fashions shaking his butt in a cheesy music video within the film is worth the price of admission.

While the age difference between the two leads may be a bit distracting at first, given a chance Music and Lyrics really grows on you. Grant and Barrymore know exactly what audiences expect and both deliver the goods, despite the sometimes silly circumstances they're thrust into by writer/director Marc Lawrence.

Music and Lyrics also features a couple of really strong supporting performances, although the jury's still out on feature film newcomer Bennett. Kristen Johnston as Sophie’s sister/devoted Alex fan steals the show whenever she pops into the picture. Johnston and Barrymore don’t look anything alike, but that’s not the least bit important as that sisterly bond is somehow there. Brad Garrett nails the role of Alex’s friend and agent, grounding the goonyness that sometimes invades the film.

The film’s title is enough to let you know the movie will be full of catchy tunes, in this case supplied by Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne. I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with the movie’s songs as they pop into my mind at random times and drive me crazy by sticking around long enough to be annoying. Still, the songs are catchy and revisiting the '80s for a couple of hours is tolerable if not totally enjoyable.

Music and Lyrics offers a little something for everyone while, of course, playing up to the women who dominate romantic comedy audiences. The chemistry works well between Grant and Barrymore and both seem to be having fun with the material. While Music and Lyrics doesn’t reinvent the romantic comedy wheel (or even move it forward much), it does provide just the right sort of escapist entertainment we’ve come to expect from films of this genre.

* Make sure you stay through the end credits for an update on each of the characters told in pop up video style.

GRADE: B

Music and Lyrics was directed by Marc Lawrence and is rated PG-13 for some sexual content.

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