Synopsis: First you’re hot, then you’re not… and then you’re Alex Fletcher. So when the sizzlingest tween queen on the charts asks the has-been ’80s pop sensation to write her a song, he grabs for another chance at stardom. Problem: Alex can say it with music, but he sure can’t say it with words. Enter Sophie Fisher, his beguiling if quirky plant lady, who has an unexpected green thumb for lyrics. Together, they go after songwriting success – and discover that if you want to write the perfect love song, it helps to fall in love.
With Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore at the keyboard and Marc Lawrence (Two Weeks Notice) directing, Music And Lyrics is a witty, wacky romantic comedy that faces the music… and laughs!
Music and Lyrics 7.5
…and likely did, up until not so long ago.
If I were the copywriter for this DVD, I would have taken some cues from Wiki or imdb, because this particular overview is especially weak:
– the first line doesn’t even make sense: “… and then you’re Alex Fletcher”. What does that even mean? So… he’s neither hot or not hot, then? How does that work?
– secondly, the part about the couple having to fall in Love to write the perfect love song…? It’s complete rubbish! Actually, they fall in love as their partnership blossoms; the song is mostly complete before they even have eyes for each other.
– “with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore at the keyboard” is wholly inaccurate because he’s the composer (on piano, not keys!) and she’s the lyricist – hence why the movie has the inventive title ‘Music and Lyrics’.
– finally, the line that it’s a “wacky comedy that faces the music” suggests that there are truths or challenges to confront, some drama that brings us down to earth. Not even close. The only question in this film is: Will they or won’t they? And the only answer is: Obviously… but how?
The fact is that this synopsis is so cheesy that it could make it sound worse than it really is, but it also paints a false picture of it and could easily lead to disappointment. If I had read the darned thing before watching the movie, that is. Which I didn’t, thankfully (I rarely ever do).
So it turns out that I was able to enjoy the film for what it is, with very little outside influence affecting my enjoyment (a fortuitous thing, because it’s hardly a masterpiece – and anything taking away from it would likely make a huge difference).
‘Music and Lyrics’ is a fairly mid-level romantic comedy: the drama is fairly realistic, the comedy is decent, the romantic development is credible, and the acting is solid enough to support the material. But on no level does it stand out from any of its peers.
The one way it distinguishes itself is in its setting: that of the world of pop music. Like ‘Notting Hill’, it’s not just two regular folks meeting through chance – one of them is a star (of some sort). Unlike ‘Notting Hill’, however, the characters aren’t supported by quirky secondary characters and its writing isn’t nearly as witty.
While I wasn’t blown away, I quite liked watching Hugh and Drew work together. Their chemistry wasn’t 100% but, when they worked as an on-screen writing duo, they were completely on; I got the impression of watching a real songwriting team at work, and the way they interacted engaged me.
Grant plays his usual type, not unlike the one in ‘Notting Hill’, actually, minus the neuroses and some of the charm. I can’t imagine anyone else making this role work, as it’s not the greatest part, but he goes for it with gusto – including during his pop star sequences when he needs to perform (his “modern Simon Le Bon” style was slightly ill-fitting, but was obviously credible).
Drew was quite good here; I completely believed her character, whether she was serious, playful, sad, hurt, smitten, …etc. The part isn’t written especially well, but she filled it in as best as anyone could. As for Cora, the pop diva that they are working for, Haley Bennett played her to perfection; we can’t help but believe this pain-in-the-@$$, entitled b- who is on top of the world (for now ).
The music obviously plays a large part in this film. Unfortunately, it’s not great – especially Cora’s songs, which sound like the tripe that Britney Spears used to do up until that point (I haven’t checked for years so I couldn’t tell you what she’s up to now). Thankfully, the Hugh and Drew ones were alright enough to sell the idea that they’re viable songwriters – and, especially in a pop milieu, this could be the case.
I think that this is what made the film more appealing to me, gave it a flavour that I dug more than I otherwise would. If a different setting/industry had been picked, I would have found it equally competent as a film, but would have been far less interested. Thus, I would have to say that ‘Music and Lyrics’ would probably be best enjoyed by other (pop?) music lovers first and foremost.
Everyone else could satiate their cravings for romantic comedies with any number of other, more fulfilling features. There aren’t tons of great ones, but they are out there – and, unlike ‘Music and Lyrics’, the greatest ones are more than mere verse and chorus.