Music & Lyrics (2007)

Starring: Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Johnston, Hayley Bennett, Brad Garrett

Directed by: Marc Lawrence

Rating: 1 2 3

Hugh Grant as PoP! star Alex Fletcher in Music & Lyrics

Imagine you went to see Britney Spears in concert (a leap of the faith in the first place) and that halfway through the gig, Andrew Ridgely came on stage and sang a song. This is the scenario we're asked to swallow in the fun and frothy rom-com Music and Lyrics.

Hugh Grant plays Alex Fletcher, a self-professed '80s has been. Once a member of the successful boyband PoP! (a delightfully sugary hybrid Duran Duran/Wham! clone) he's now reduced to playing high school reunions and theme parks, contenting himself with taking lonely trips to his local CD store, to see if the one copy of his solo album flop has sold. It hasn't.

But celebrity salvation beckons in the blonde, bizarrely Buddhist and seriously skinny form of teen scream superstarlet Cora Corman (Hayley Bennett - Xtina's figure with Shakira's moves and Britney's brain) who, for some reason best known to herself, wants him to write her a hit song. Now all he needs is a lyricist.

Enter Sophie (a super sweet Drew Barrymore) - she may only be the girl who waters his plants (?) but she has an ear for a melody and a natural talent for writing poignant lyrics. And you can probably make up the rest of the plot all by yourself.

As the failing Fletcher, Grant is warm, wry, witty and self-deprecatingly exuberant, gurning his way through his lines as if he knows he's too good for this kind of fluff, but is having too much fun to stop, like someone dancing 'The Time Warp' 'ironically' at a wedding, while secretly having the time of their life. Mumbling deadpan off-the-cuff quips as if he's making up the script as he goes along, he provides the perfect foil for the lovely, ditzy and very girly Barrymore as she does her Wedding Singer rom-com thang. With strong support from Kristen Johnston (Sally from Third Rock From The Sun) as Sophie's PoP! obsessed big sister and Everyone Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett as Alex's long suffering manager, the cast proves as infectiously likeable and old school as the music.

Ah yes, the music. Kudos to the real writer of the music and lyrics, because this film comes with a health warning: you will be singing the insanely catchy songs for days to come. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Drew Barrymore writes the lyrics and Hugh Grants writes the tunes in Music & Lyrics

My main complaint about this film, however, (c'mon, it's a romantic comedy - you didn't think I was gonna give it five stars, did you?) is that the funniest bit (and believe me, it is very funny) comes right at the beginning, when we're treated to the video for PoP!'s greatest hit, 'Pop goes my heart'. After this glorious paean to the tragic style and cheap camera trickery, synthesized harmonies and slick key changes of the decade taste chose tactfully to skip over, it's really downhill all the way - if you're seen the trailer, you've seen the best lines.

True, there's nothing to actively dislike about Music & Lyrics (apart from Hugh Grant, if that's how you feel) but it's so lacking in intellectual substance it makes Posh Spice look like Germaine Greer. Unlike your classic rom-com (think Four Weddings or Bridget Jones's Diary) there's no real tension. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love. And just at the point when boy and girl are supposed to fall out over some hilariously and unconvincingly engineered misunderstanding and end up almost marrying some other poor stooge. they don't. The path of true love runs straight as a die, and our couple live happily ever after. Which is nice for Valentine's Day, I suppose, but not, dramatically, terribly satisfying. If music really is the food of love, then I'm afraid that Music & Lyrics is only a snack.

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