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Music and Lyrics (2007)

by on 2011/02/26

Normally you would have to drag me kicking and screaming into a romantic movie.

I’ve got a solid working relationship with drama. I’m good friends with comedy. I am best friends with action and crime and horror and suspense. But I have serious relationship issues with romance.

In fact, the straight-up romantic film makes me want to heave.

That’s why Mr. Renders’ suggestion one evening that I see Music and Lyrics, an adorable Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant vehicle, was met with a slow-motion temper tantrum played out in three acts. I am glad he stoically withstood my snide remarks, panicky counter suggestions and escalating passive-aggressive (aggressive-aggressive) behaviours.

Because – may the void stop my cynical heart dead and please don’t tell anyone – I sort of loved this film.

You know, it was ok. Whatever.

First of all, it started with a brilliant recreation of an 80s music video. It was all there: the puffy shirts, the high hair, references to “Asian eyes,” horrible acting and cheap blue-screen effects. Hugh Grant, playing Alex Fletcher the frontman for the imaginary band PoP!, was dancing and singing in white pants.

With the 80s music video luring me into Music and Lyrics’ candy house, …Wham! …there was Drew Barrymore (Whip It and Going the Distance) as Sophie Fisher with her face like a Botticelli angel and china doll eyes, doing clumsy, charming things and rambling adorably. I knew then I was in big trouble.

Sophie is the substitute plant girl, stumbling into Alex’ man cave condo. As she awkwardly and destructively tramps around the 80s has-been’s carefully ordered home, she reveals she’s got a bit a way with words. While Alex is all about the well-crafted melody, he can’t string together a lyrical phrase to save his life.

Now this is a little hard to believe given we are talking about Hugh Grant here and the script, written by film director Marc Lawrence, is crammed with an above-average level of wit …but I was willing to suspend my disbelief because of the transfixing charms referenced above.

As we quickly learn, Alex is getting one last opportunity to breathe life into his walking corpse of a career. A teen singing sensation Cora (Haley Bennett), a cross between Shakira and Miley Cyrus, wants Alex to write a song for her. With a deadline for the song demo looming, Alex, reeking of desperation, pursues the hard-to-get, harder-to-understand Sophie to help him write the piece.

Alex convinces Sophie, and they are thrown into the steamy creative cauldron together. Late nights, intimate chats, terrible coffee and Wham! …they are falling for one another. The  entire song-writing process and resultant song “Way Back Into Love” was so charming it reached medically unsafe levels.

While Grant and Barrymore could read from the phone book and still be interesting to watch, they are complemented by some solid supporting characters. Alex Fletcher’s long-suffering manager Chris is played by Lurch-like giant Brad Garrett. Sophie’s sister Rhonda is played by Lurch-like giant Kristen Johnston. This casting succeeds in making Grant and Barrymore look even more like the adorable Smurfs they are.

Yes, this movie is good. Yes, it is absolutely charming.

I probably have cooties now.

Let’s never speak of this again.

* * * *

96 minutes

PG for Hugh Grant’s pelvic-thrust heavy dancing and white pants

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