Music and Lyrics: This Week's Perfect Valentines Film
by Alex Billington
February 14, 2007
It's Valentine's Day and you have to make a choice: do you take your date to a new movie or see something at home? If you want the most "aww" moments and hugs afterwards, then no doubt you need to choose Music and Lyrics. This romantic comedy isn't a perfect romance film, but it provides just the right amount of energy, entertainment, and shine to be thoroughly enjoyable.
In Music and Lyrics, Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) writes commercial jingles, a far cry from his past glory during the '80s as a pop star of a band called Pop. His manager Chris (Brad Garrett), who's getting him gigs in rural amusement parks, finally gets him the opportunity to write a duet with pop star Cora Corman (Haley Bennett) who we're told is "bigger than Christina and Britney combined." At first he doesn't know what to write, but inspiration comes in the form of his plant caretaker Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore) who's a natural lyricist yet won't believe it. As the two begin to work together they also begin to fall in love.
Music and Lyrics is incredibly sweet and cute, but it never really gets deeply romantic. For the first half it's just a struggling story of Alex trying to get his career back to even a fraction of its former strength. The film only gets into the relationship later on, and its flimsy ending doesn't pull the story together the way anyone would imagine a relationship story like this should. It's less the dynamic of the two actors and more the script and the story that works so well in Music and Lyrics. It's packed full of great lines and delightful moments in this has-been pop stars career that make it easy to get wrapped up into the musically exciting romance and the well-delivered comedy that help keeps the mood right on the edge of becoming too sappy.
Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore are fine actors on their own, but they don't set a new standard with their roles in Music and Lyrics. The two of them never have a true sense of deep love for each other, no matter how much either tries to show it. Thankfully their acting gives us enjoyable comedic moments and generally well-played scenes evocative of last year's The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Jack Black. Music and Lyrics sometimes feels constrained to the limitations of a Hollywood script: the characters include songwriters and musicians yet the soundtrack includes only four original songs, of which Alex's solo version of his biggest hit song "Pop" stands out the most. Fortunately it's easy to manage these fumbles and recover back into the cute story that makes up the most of Music and Lyrics.
The perfect Valentine's Day movies are ones that will make you squirm in your seat as you cuddle with your date. Music and Lyrics is just that way - it does a great job of pulling you in and entertaining you despite its character chemistry troubles. Grant and Barrymore aren't the best picturesque couple, but that's irrelevant when you're laughing and smiling the entire time. Definitely go see Music and Lyrics while love is in the air - even if you don't have a significant other, because maybe even the person next to you will soon become one.