Pop Goes Your Heart
What do you get when you put the queen of romantic comedies, Drew Barrymore, with one of Britain's popular comedy actors, Hugh Grant? Well you don't get much more than a pretty average romantic comedy, which has some funny scenes, but just as many poor ones. If you hadn't guessed this is what I think of "Music & Lyrics", a much advertised romantic comedy which sadly used up all the best bits in the trailer and left nothing else to make you really want to sing its praises.
When washed up 80s pop sensation Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant - American Dreamz) is approached by the current pop princess to write a song for them to perform, he grabs the chance with both hands. The only problem is that whilst he can come up with a tune he can't write lyrics to save his life. Luckily for Alex, he discovers that Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore - The Perfect Catch), the young woman who tends his pot plants, has an uncanny knack of creating lyrics out of nothing. Joining forces they attempt to create the perfect song and in doing so realize that maybe there is something more between them than just music and lyrics.
The basis of "Music & Lyrics" is nothing more than what every other modern day romantic comedy is, a tale of man meets woman they fall in love but watch out for the turbulence along the way, yawn. But despite this over used and pretty boring theme, the over lying story is in itself reasonably decent. I suppose the movie caught my attention because it has a slight 80s twist to it and the opening scenes in which we watch a music video for a fictional band from the 80s called POP perform one of their hits definitely set "Music & Lyrics" off on a good tempo. If you remember the videos from the likes of Wham and Duran Duran then you are going to love this opening music video scene just as much as I did, and indeed watching Hugh Grant in full 80s regalia, including bad hair, strutting his stuff is a sight to be seen.
But sadly "Music & Lyrics" fails to keep the tempo up, and even further moments of 80s retro merriment, which again rely on Grant making a fool of himself with terrible dancing, fail to really live up to the expectations which the opening scene delivered. So having hit us with what is in my opinion is the best bit, "Music & Lyrics" then seems to meander along following the tried and tested route, throwing the occasional moment of hilarity but not enough to say wow wasn't that really funny. Indeed by the time I got to the predictable but enjoyable ending I was feeling relieved that "Music & Lyrics" was ending but also disappointed that in someway I had been cheated by a movie trailer which got my attention by showing me all the best bits of the movie.
What for me really let "Music & Lyrics" down, and is key in my opinion to making a romantic comedy work, is the chemistry between the two leads. In the case of "Music & Lyrics" I not only struggled with the lack of chemistry between Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, but even more so that they would fall in love in the first place. For me there were no real signs of flirting, romance or anything which goes to show that the Alex and Sophie were falling for each other. This is made worse by the few scenes in which the two stars are supposed to be being close and intimate feeling rather cold and clinical. Saying that as comedy partners Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore do work reasonably well and bounce of each other with great timing, so at least that's something good about the movie.
Where "Music & Lyrics" does hit a high is in the characters especially with an 80s pop has been, his manager who seems to have just the one client, the girl who waters the plants, who happens to have a quirky knack with lyrics and her sister who is a huge fan of the 80s has been. In away it is not so much who the characters are but taking each actors performance individually it is the way they bring them alive and each one really does the fill the screen. When Hugh Grant danced his way across the screen as the Prime Minister in the hit comedy "Love Actually" it was only going to be a matter of time before someone decided to tap his hysterical talent for cheesy dancing. Well casting him as a washed up 80s pop singer definitely gives him a chance to strut his funky stuff, and is one of the key comedy moments of the movie, especially when you see him pull a muscle whilst doing a pelvic thrust. But it is not just his dancing which makes his character come alive, Grant manages to give his character a bit of a Tom Jones feel as he knows he is getting on in years, but enjoys the adulation of the young fans who turn out for his gigs, which are all minor affairs as he struggles to fill even the smallest of venues.
Opposite Grant is one of my favourite actresses, that being Drew Barrymore, a woman who has made a niche for herself in the romantic comedy market. Sadly, compared to some of her other comedies, such as "The Wedding Singer" and "The Perfect Catch", I felt she was limited by what is quite an under developed character. Yes, there was back history to her character and a slightly strange one at that, but it really didn't feel like her character grew. That is not a criticism of Barrymore herself as she played the character with all her usual wit and charm which she does with all these sorts of characters, its just it felt like there was something missing. What was a bit disappointing for me is that the whole time I watched "Music & Lyrics" I felt like I was watching Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, not their characters and so this let it down a bit for me. Thankfully the film has some very enjoyable performance from Brad Garrett as the manager and Kristen Johnston as the sister who both fill the screen with much needed humour when the film starts to fail.
With the words "Music & Lyrics" in the title of the movie, I expected quite a prominent soundtrack, and maybe an 80s one due to this influence on the film. Sadly I was disappointed again, as whilst the film had plenty of musical numbers, none of them were classics from the era and the film relied heavily on the song from the opening sequence, which was to start with enjoyable but by the end quite irritating. One thing I have to mention is the fact that Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore did actually sing some of the songs and what is even more surprising is that they didn't sound too bad, well done the sound engineers for that minor miracle........ only joking.
What this all boils down to is that to be honest "Music & Lyrics" was pretty average and quite disappointing seeing that the trailer made it out to be much funnier than it turned out to be. Yes it has moments of hilarity, most of which revolve around poking fun at the 80s, but it fails to score at all in the romance department, and that is down to the lack of any romantic chemistry between Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. For once it is a film which really leaves me in two minds as to whether I would recommend it, as the whole 80s things made me smile but then it has so many flaws.