Music and Lyrics (Warner Brothers, PG-13)

film_music_lyrics_smWords cannot express how worried I am about Andrew Ridgeley. What do you mean, you don't know who that is? He was only half of '80s super duo Wham! You didn't really think George Michael made all that magic alone, did you?

 

 

 

 

Music and Lyrics focuses on Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who was also part of a huge (fictional but accurate) '80s group (Pop!) and went on to be overshadowed by his better-looking and more-talented band mate. Alex went from superstardom to playing amusement parks and class reunions, but as long as he can shake his booty in tight pants and still have women somewhere scream, he's OK with his legacy as "that other guy."

But when Alex's reliable gigs start to dry up, he fears he's getting too old for his aging fans to care anymore, and begins to panic, until young pop starlet Cora Corman (Haley Bennett) asks him to write and record a duet with her. The problem is that Alex hasn't written anything in years and, even in his heyday, never wrote lyrics. Now he has only a few days to come up with a complete song for Cora, or quickly abandon all hope of renewed semi-fame.

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While trying to write, Alex discovers the lyrical talents of his new plant caretaker Sophie (Drew Barrymore), whom he presses into service to help him write Cora's song. Barrymore and Grant (especially) are usually champs at adding zip to their material, but an actor can only do so much. Neither is given much to work with here, as they sink into some pretty familiar roles. Grant has basically revisited his About a Boy character: Alex is a cocky and commitment-phobic loner who's satisfied with living in the past. Barrymore's Sophie is cute and quirky and lovable, and hiding a secret that only her leading man can help her overcome.

While the two look good together, I was never able to buy them as any more than coworkers who bitch about their troubles over lunch. As a romantic duo they had no spark, and for the leads of a romantic comedy that spells boredom.

That's most obvious during a scene where Alex and Sophie have their first meeting with Cora and wait for her feedback. Unfortunately, wait is all they do. Grant and Barrymore look as if they've given up while they stand silently befuddled and wondering what they should be doing. This may be the only scene in any recent movie where you can watch the stars not acting.

Music and Lyrics also suffers from lack-of-funny. I can see that everyone involved wants the jokes to work, but even when I laughed I found that it felt sort of shallow, as though I were laughing out of some sense of obligation, not because I was really feeling the funny.

Another problem with the film? You can't make fun of the modern-day pop princess; their ludicrous excess renders them auto-mocking. Britney, Christina, and Lindsay have embarrassed themselves so thoroughly on so many occasions that nothing the filmmakers come up with is as preposterous. Therefore, every scene that ridicules Cora, her fame, and her fans falls absolutely flat. It doesn't help at all that Bennett isn't much of an actress. Her line deliveries are so monotone and eyes so vacant, I don't believe I've ever seen anyone appear on screen that seems less inclined to a career in film. | Adrienne Jones

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