Hugh Woos Drew in Hilarious Romantic Romp
Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) skyrocketed to fame as a lead singer for Pop, a British boy band which enjoyed a string of bubblegum hits back in the Eighties, starting with the very catchy ditty “Pop Goes My Heart.” The group reached the top of the charts with the help of music videos designed to make teenage girls go ga-ga over the guys’ gyrations. But at the peak of their success, the quintet went their separate ways after the other front man, Colin (Scott Porter), decided to embark on a solo career.
At that juncture, the fortunes of the two heartthrobs diverged, with Alex’s stock plummeting while Colin’s career continued to flourish. Fast forward to the present where learn that Colin has been knighted by the Queen, leaving Alex languishing on the fringes of show business.
Presently, he lives in New York City in relative obscurity, represented by his constant companion, Chris (Brad Garrett), an enthusiastic but ineffective agent with only one client. The only bookings he can find are at amusement parks, high school reunions and on a reality-TV shows designed for over-the-hill icons called “Battle of the Eighties Has-Beens.”
Then, just when Alex has resigned himself to life on a lowly circuit that would have him performing at Great Adventure, Knotts Berry Farm and Busch Gardens, a shot at a comeback arrives out of the blue. As it turns out, Cora (Haley Bennett), the hot, new singing sensation, happens to have been a big fan of Alex’s as a child and wants to record a duet with him for her next single. The catch is that the young diva (whose act looks an awful lot like Shakira’s) also expects him to write the song and to have it ready in six days, no less.
Of course, Alex accepts the challenge, not letting on that he hasn’t composed a tune in years. Furthermore, because he has never written lyrics, he finds himself suddenly scampering about for a partner to collaborate with. As fate would have it, Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), his substitute plant waterer just happens to have an uncanny knack for rhyming almost anything. And judging by the way that Alex and Sophie’s eyes lock when they first meet, it’s a little obvious that they’re fated to fall in love.
This transparent premise provides the fulcrum for Music and Lyrics, a charming romantic romp which happens to be the funniest film of the year so far, its obviousness notwithstanding. The movie was written and directed by Marc Lawrence who is best known as the brains behind the clever script for Miss Congeniality (2000). Here, Lawrence has crafted a more sophisticated screenplay and placed it in the hands of a very capable ensemble.
The casting of Hugh Grant opposite Drew Barrymore was a stroke of genius both in terms of chemistry and comedy. For his trademark self-deprecating vulnerability serves as the perfect foil for her scatterbrained zaniness, and their witty repartee is reminiscent of the best of the badinage between Hepburn and Tracy.
The supporting players are equally inspired, especially a couple of colorful characters played by seasoned TV alums, multiple Emmy-winners Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond, and Kristen Johnston of 3rd Rock from the Sun. The gargantuan Garrett exhibits an exquisite sense of timing as Alex’s wheeler-dealer agent/sidekick, and the Rubenesque Johnston steals her every scene as Sophie’s star-struck big sister.
Between the pithy dialogue and the retro humor which comes at the expense of big hair bands, be prepared to laugh throughout the duration of this delightful date flick.
Music and Lyrics
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sex content.
Running time: 96 minutes
Studio: Warner Brothers