Music and Lyrics
Another year, another romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, this time together. Seriously, how could they keep making these without these two?
The plot revolves around an 80’s has-been pop star named Alex Fletcher, one half of the erstwhile pop group POP! (see what they did there?), based loosely on Wham! and DuranDuran. While his songwriting partner took off on his own, becoming a solo superstar, Alex has been making his living from the “where are they now?” markets, but gigs have been drying up.
He gets the break of a lifetime when he’s contacted by the biggest current pop star (“bigger than Britney and Christina put together” says a breathless Brad Garrett in the role of Alex’ agent) who wants him to write a song for her.
Trouble is, he can only write music, not lyrics, but after an abortive session with a bipolar lyricist, he finds his partner in his plant girl, Drew Barrymore. He only has a few days, and finally manages to convince her to write with him. No prize for guessing what happens next…
Music and Lyrics is a sweet comedy, and while it is not one for the ages, I was incredibly entertained by it. While the love story itself is nothing special, there are things that really elevates it: First up is a score (no pun intended) of original songs written for the film. The central songs are written by Adam Schlesinger of the band Fountains of Wayne; the man is incapable of writing a bad tune, it seems, and his songs here are no exception, and the best part is that they all sound like genuine pop songs, even though infused with a hint of the piss-take. A bit like comparing the Rutles with the Beatles, really: affectionate takes on familiar tunes that work wonderfully on their own. The rest of the songs aren’t bad either, and for a pop music lover such as myself, the deal would already be closed.
The second thing, of course, is the cast. Hugh Grant is back in his slightly foppish persona (enough with the charming bastards for a while, one supposes) and Drew Barrymore is his perfect foil. They have an easy and natural chemistry, abetted by a sharp script that never draws attention to itself. Support from Brad Garrett and Kristin Johnston is also pitch-perfect, and Cora, the pop star about to resuscitate Alex’ career, is a suitably vapid sexpot droning on about sprituality in a fashion that cheerfully skewers Madonna, Britney and Xtina.
Like I said, this isn’t one for the ages, but for those of us utterly in love with the joys of pure pop music, it’s an irresistable treat.
- Director: Marc Lawrence
- Cast: Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore