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Music and Lyrics

What Music and Lyrics may lack in romantic zing, it makes up for by featuring Hugh Grant in tight pants and a bad '80s hairdo.


Meet Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant), a washed-up but charismatic '80s pop star who has been reduced to the nostalgia circuit at county fairs and amusement parks. He doesn't mind it too much since he gets to sing his old songs and his fans, albeit older now, still throng 'round him. But Alex is really a talented musician, and when his manager (Brad Garrett) lands him a comeback chance—to compose a song for the reigning pop princess Cora Corman (Haley Bennet) for a duet—Alex jumps on it. One small problem: Alex hasn't written a song in years and needs to have this one wrapped up in a few days. That's where Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), Alex's beguilingly quirky plant lady, comes in. She's got a weird flair for words (Alex calls her "Cole Porter in panties") and soon he has convinced her to collaborate with him. Yes, yes, they fall for each other--but first they have to shift through their silly baggage.


The chemistry between any romantic comedy's wannabe lovers has to click. If it doesn't, you're stuck in sizzlelessness. The stars of Music and Lyrics sort of falls in between the two: Grant shines while Barrymore fizzles. Honestly, Grant could keep playing the role of a bemused, disheveled, slightly edgy but utterly irresistible romantic lead until he's 80 years old, and we'll still buy it. He never seems to grow stale in the label he's been wearing since Four Weddings and a Funeral. Barrymore, too, has been quite appealing as the quirky love interest in films such as The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. But those both had her starring opposite Adam Sandler—and the chemistry obviously bubbles between them. Grant and Barrymore can't quite pull it off as well, and while Grant's Alex is charming and witty as the one half of Music and Lyrics' romantic pairing, Barrymore's Sophie is more annoying than anything else. Too bad. Newcomer Bennet, however, nails the Shakira/Britney Spears pop diva, never playing it too over-the-top but still keeping her tongue planted firmly in her cheek.


Forget about all the romance--Music and Lyrics is really about the evolution of a good pop song. The hilarious opening '80s music video, starring Alex's fictional band Pop!, truly sets the mood—leaving you humming their catchy but totally irritating song "Pop! Goes My Heart" throughout the entire movie. Director/writer Marc Lawrence (Two Weeks Notice) knows what he is doing when he's got his two lovebirds collaborating on the love song for Cora. But the film falls apart when Lawrence tries to justify everything else, such as why Sophie's a neurotic wacko (coming off a bad breakup) or why Alex fell off the wagon (bitterness over a split with his writing partner)—and most importantly, how these two kids make it work (the ending is too pat). I suppose it wouldn't be much of a movie if it were just about how bad the music was in the '80s, but it certainly boosts Music and Lyrics' corny spirits.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.