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I approached this movie with some trepidation. The reviews had been
rather mixed and romantic comedies often go wrong. And I don't really
trust the opinion of the friend who recommended it.
But it's actually excellent. It's funny and charming. The songs are some of the best written-for-some-romantic-comedy songs I've ever heard. The opening mock video is great and Grant and Barrymore are both utterly charming. There's also a very nice performance by Haley Bennett as a spacey pop star (I actually came across a review by someone who said Bennett stole the movie from Barrymore, which is fairly insane since it's a very small part. My guess is the reviewer either just doesn't like Barrymore or fell in love with Haley because she's utterly gorgeous).
It's not a perfect movie. Like a lot of romantic comedies, it begins to lose some steam when it tries to actually have a story and teach lessons and all that. I was worried it would turn out like Hitch, which is really funny for the first plot less half and then becomes really lame. But Music & Lyrics wisely keeps the plot to a minimum, staying as much as possible to a simple story about two people with a connection being charming and saying funny things.
In some ways this movie is a throwback to the 80's that it makes fun
of. Romantic comedies were very popular then and tended to be much
better than the crap that has been coming out for the last few years.
The difference here is that they use people with actual talent instead of the pop flavour of the day. Drew and Hugh do their jobs very well, and even their singing isn't terrible. Haley Bennett is a very nice surprise as well. Cute, sexy and talented. She made a very convincing pop princess.
The movie didn't drag on, there were no scenes added just for filler, and it wasn't pretentious. The performances were overall good to excellent. The actors acted. In fact they were actors, and not pop princesses or former stars of children's shows. Or Both. That made the difference between a good movie and a piece of crap.
You might guess by now that I am not a fan of the jerks that cast talentless "Flavour of the Day" brats that can't even keep their privates private, just so they have a built in audience for a movie. Honestly does anybody think that "actors" like Lohan or whoever will be remembered even 20 years from now? I can't say that I love everything Drew ever made (never saw the Charlie's Angels movies for instance. But at least she can act.
9 out of 10 just because I was so happy it didn't suck!
There is something strangely comforting about Hugh Grant films. You
always know exactly what you are going to get, and what you get is
enjoyable, non-offensive gentle romantic comedy. OK, Hugh Grant will
usually be playing Hugh Grant, (this is the case in pretty much all of
his films) so his films are never likely to trouble Oscar, but for
matinée idol entertainment there are few better. So because you always
know what you are going to get, Hugh Grant rom-coms never have a
problem living up to expectations and that is no bad thing.
In this latest offering, Grant is a washed-up 80s pop star looking to try and revive his career in some sort of comeback, whatever it takes (which seems a reasonable idea given the high number of reforming bands and comebacks around the current chart). He is asked by a Britney/Christina-alike pop diva to record a song for her. Struggling for inspiration, the lady who waters his plants contributes random lyrics, and a song is born as the two work together on the music and lyrics (clever title then huh?). It also helps that the plant-watering lady is played by the beautiful Drew Barrymore, so I won't bother recapping what happens next. Well there's no need is there? The film opens with a classic 80s-style pop video, showing Hugh Grant and his former bandmates in all their glory, a perfect example of 80s cheesy pop, complete with accompanying dance moves and irritatingly catchy, so you will find yourself going away humming the damn thing all day. The rest of the soundtrack is surprisingly pleasant without being mindblowing, and is thus the perfect accompaniment to the film.
As stated before, Grant is just his usual self no real challenge for him anymore, so he seems completely at ease with his performance without really having to make much effort, and Barrymore is also her usual likable self. The supporting cast are all fine but with no real show-stealers like you sometimes get in these films. So while there is nothing outstanding about this film, it is still an enjoyable film, fun for all the family and inoffensive. Just don't be surprised or disappointed by it, because you know what you're going to get before the opening credits roll. Overall a slightly above-average comedy thanks to the likability of its two leads, relevance to today's charts, and a decent number of one-line gags and the irritatingly catchy soundtrack! So why such a high rating if it is merely above average? Well quite simply, I enjoyed the film, maybe it is a guilty pleasure film, but in the end it all comes down to personal preference. I enjoyed it, so there.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the mid-90's, Hugh Grant was typecast as the nice guy with a knack
for one-liners whose greatest fault was passivity. Not coincidentally,
this was both the commercial and artistic peak of his career with films
such as "Four Weddings and a Funeral", "Sense and Sensibility", "The
Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain" and "Notting
Hill". Then came the Divine Brown scandal, which tarnished his nice-guy
image. Since then, he has been either had to do garbage like "Mickey
Blue Eyes" and "American Dreamz" or settle for roles as misogynistic
womanizing brats in such fare as the "Bridget Jones" movies and "Two
In "Music and Lyrics", Hugh Grant plays a nice guy with a knack for one-liners whose greatest fault is passivity. Not coincidentally, this is his best performance since "Notting Hill". Otherwise, however, this is just another romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore set in New York.
The movie starts out with a dead-on parody of 1980's videos that features PoP, a New Romantic band purposely designed to only appeal to teenage girls (think Duran Duran meets Wham! meets a-ha meets ABC). Hugh Grant plays Alex Fletcher, who plays synth and shares lead vocals with Colin Thompson (Scott Porter). We cut to the present with Alex in a boardroom shocked to find out that "Battle of the '80's Has-Beens" wants him to box Debbie Gibson for the opportunity to sing on TV again.
He goes back home with his manager (Brad Garrett) and meets his new plant lady Sophie (Drew Barrymore in the same role she's always played since the end of the "Charlie's Angel" franchise). He is under no illusions about the significance of his teen-pop, but he can't make a living without it. Then, just when all hope seems lost, he gets an offer to write a song for shallow teen sensation Cora (Haley Bennett playing a cross between pre-motherhood Britney Spears and post-motherhood Madonna). But the problem is that before, all the lyrics were written by Colin, with whom he has not had contact in over 10 years. He tries hiring a professional lyricist (Greg Antoon), but the lyricist only wants to do gloom-and-doom stuff. While they are hashing it out, Sophie--watering plants in the background--improvises a rhyme that is much better than anything the lyricist can come up with.
And that sets up the rest of the movie, with the typical romantic comedy staples: long pans of the NYC skyline, the interfering older sister (Kristen Johnson), the jerk ex-boyfriend (Campbell Scott), the first sexual experience that they mistakenly think is a mistake, the near-breakup and the reconciliation to great public applause (I'm embarrassed to have to put a spoiler warning for that last one).
A mention must be made at this point about the music: It is uniformly awful, but then so is 1980's New Romantic music (with the notable exception of U2) and 21st Century teen-girl pop (with the notable exception of Beyonce Knowles). Although Grant and Barrymore are listed as the performers of their songs, the closing credits list Martin Fry (former ABC lead singer) under "special vocals". There is no female "special vocalist" credited, from what I have heard of Barrymore's attempts at singing on "SNL", I imagine she had one too. Say what you will about Stephen and the Colberts ("The Colbert Report"), that really is Stephen Colbert singing, and that tuneless croak was a staple of many a New Romantic singer trying to ape David Bowie.
Speaking of "The Daily Show", I think it is a shame that Aasif Mandvi is stuck playing a middle-eastern stereotype when he devotes his all-too-limited time on "The Daily Show" to exploding middle-eastern stereotypes.
If you are a fan of Hugh Grant, you will thank director/screenwriter Marc Lawrence for giving him a much better role than their previous collaboration in "Two Weeks Notice". This movie is very much Grant's and he makes the most of it. And that is what saves "Music and Lyrics" from the romantic comedy blahs. 7 out of 10.
Was wifey's birthday, so we headed of with our free tix to Knox to see
"Music & Lyrics" The movie is about a washed up star from the 80's,
Alex Fletcher (Grant), who is living in the past and living off his
fame by playing small-time gigs around the US. One day he is given the
chance he's been looking for when he's asked to write a song for and
perform with Cora, the hugest female star in the world.
Alex has always been great at melodies but has struggled with lyrics. Enter Sophie Fisher (Barrymore), who while watering his plants one day helps with a line or two and things go from there.
Alex and Sophie come up with a great song and present it to Cora, who also thinks it's great. Problem is, she wants to "mix" it a little. Will they go for the changes? Will Alex and Sophie form a romantic relationship? Will they both learn valuable things? Nothing great, pretty standard romantic comedy. Gets to 6 because of the awesome 80's song "Pop Goes My Heart" made for the movie, plus the song written by Alex and Sophie.
I like positive surprises! More than the shallow romantic movie I expected, but sufficiently original, lively and funny. Good entertainment for me for me from first to last minute. Lightened up my spirits on a lonely Friday night, was no doubt worth the money. I sympathized with the characters for their slightly freaky way, and liked that the movie - at least at most times :-) - did not cross the line to soppiness but always stayed funny and a little ironic, and also the way some inconvenient truths were outspoken between the characters which is always a healthy preventive to soppiness. I appreciated a lot the musical&show performances the actors delivered. I think that anyone who has ever been on a stage themselves will truly have to give them some credit for their accomplishments in entertainment, especially newly-cast Haley Bennett. On-the-spot entertainment for me, which will say something for someone like me who neither has a liking for the 80's nor for the usual git Hugh Grant. No, I liked both Grant and Drew Barrymore a lot in this one as well as the music. Light entertainment is an art in itself, and was accomplished pretty much to my satisfaction. Strongly support the tagline of another user's comment "Surprisingly good fun - better than you'd think". OK perfectly happy as I was, why did I not give it a ten? The female realist inside myself was annoyed that they never talked about the money Drew Barrymore (aka Sophie Fisher) would receive for the lyrics she drew.
There was a 70's Neil Simon show called "They're Playing Our Song" that
I just loved loosely based upon the short-lived romance between Marvin
Hamlisch and Carol Bayer Sager. Although not literally based upon that
play, the spirit of that delicious confection lives on in this comedy.
Hugh Grant plays an 80's Has-Been (loved the running gag about the Battle-of-the-80's-Has-Beens) former POP icon who has burnt out and taken the easy road in life. Lo and behold, a new POP icon, supposedly a riff on Brittany Spears although not really a very close one, wants him to write a song they can do as a duet. But he only writes music; he needs a lyricist. Enter the quirky and delightful Drew Barrymore, sister of Kristen Johnson who steals just about every scene she's in -- the latter owning a few weight-loss salons that Drew works at, and also a huge fan of Grant's old group. I don't know how true the music industry stories are but I found them hilarious, especially as recounted by Grant. Brad Garrett deadpans it just right as Grant's agent. And, Campbell Scott is perfectly smug as Barrymore's insipid literary ex-boyfriend. I did not know the actress playing Cora or the main guy in the entourage but they were also deliciously in-synch with the movie's overall feel and attitude.
I never liked Hugh Grant much in the 90's but thought he was wonderful in About A Boy and the two Bridget Jones movies. (If you enjoyed Grant here and never saw About A Boy, rent it -- I liked it even better). He built upon his new abilities to laugh at himself and the world at the same time recognizing that he's neither as noble nor as worthless as he once thought himself to be. There were two scenes where Drew seemed to think she was in The Wedding Singer again instead of a romantic comedy with a tad more sophistication and she didn't seem to reciprocate the chemistry with Grant that he was able to convey for her, but why nitpick when the film was so enjoyable? Good fun. See it with someone you love and laugh together.
When I visit the universe of romantic comedies,I do not expect originality in the story or something new on the execution.But the filmmakers who work on that genre,at least,should give some creativity,talent or energy to their movies to make the known formula better.I think I can give some credit to director Marc Lawrence for making a story which explains the relationship between music and lyrics of a song and for laughing of contemporary stars.But,in spite of that good elements,Music and lyrics is a fun but mediocre romantic comedy.Lawrence participated(as a director or screenwriter)on films like Miss congeniality(and its horrible sequel)and Two weeks notice,so he knows how to make a predictable romantic comedy...and he exactly does that on Music and lyrics.It's obvious to note how he prepared the obvious coincidences and revelations that are typical on the formula ''man knows woman'':they fall in love,they get angry and they reconcile.For example:What a coincidence that the woman who waters the plants in the musician's department is an expert to write song letters!What wonder that she thinks aloud!But,oh no!Because of a traumatic event on her life...she cannot write!Then comes the good gesture,that can produce a romantic relationship between the main characters.The film has some good elements of humor and some good dialogs but the movie is not worried in showing clichés.Like many other directors,Lawrence puts the task in shoulders of his cast of creating attractive for the spectator.Hugh Grant is a great actor and he does a good work on this movie combining his English sophistication and his good sense of the humor.Drew Barrymore also has a good work on this movie.Music and lyrics is a fun movie...but nothing else.
Forget about all the romance--Music and Lyrics is really about the evolution of a good pop song. The hilarious opening '80s music video, starring Alex's fictional band Pop!, truly sets the moodleaving you humming their catchy but totally irritating song "Pop! Goes My Heart" throughout the entire movie. Director/writer Marc Lawrence (Two Weeks Notice) knows what he is doing when he's got his two lovebirds collaborating on the love song for Cora. But the film falls apart when Lawrence tries to justify everything else, such as why Sophie's a neurotic wacko (coming off a bad breakup) or why Alex fell off the wagon (bitterness over a split with his writing partner)and most importantly, how these two kids make it work (the ending is too pat). I suppose it wouldn't be much of a movie if it were just about how bad the music was in the '80s, but it certainly boosts Music and Lyrics' corny spirits.
Alex Fletcher is an 80s has-been (Hugh Grant) from the duo Pop!, and he
needs to compose a hit for a Britney equivalent, Cora Corman (Haley
Bennett, who has eerily dead eyes like those of Bjork's), in an attempt
to boost his flagging career. Since he's more of a musician than a
writer, he finds help from his plant lady Sophie Fisher (Drew
Pop!'s video at the start of the film establishes where Alex comes from and it admittedly had an authentic feel of an 80s music video. Grant has left his usual womanizing cad characters with this film, and like his character, is unashamedly true to his range. Alex has no qualms being called a 'has-been', has no angst nor pride. Barrymore is luminous in this role and like Grant, plays this sort of character well. Grant and Barrymore effectively work as a tandem because they embrace their genre and unabashedly play it to the hilt so they never really have to try so hard.
Alex is given depth and not just the easygoing man he appears to be. When Alex convinces Sophie to confront her ex, "People wait their whole lives to see an ex when things are going really good. It NEVER happens. You could make relationship history!" people can relate to that. And when he justifies how pop songs are superior to literature ("Let's see how reading a novel can make you feel better in five minutes just like a pop song can"), and when he gives Sophie a much-needed reality check by calling her on her pity party. In the end, we realize that Alex is a brilliant popstar after all and Sophie is not just a cerebral Lit major, because they are able to relate to the average person on an emotional level in the amount of time it takes to do so: a five-minute pop song.
Music & Lyrics is a cutesy, feel good romantic comedy, a bit draggy in some parts but it does have its sparks of wit.
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