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MUSIC AND LYRICS

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Campbell Scott, Kristen Johnston, Brad Garrett, Haley Bennett
Director:  Marc Lawrence
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  See Review
Length:  104 Minutes
Release Date:  May 8, 2007

ďThe best time Iíve had in the last fifteen years was sitting at that piano with you.Ē

ďThatís wonderfully sensitive.  Especially from a man who wears such tight pants.Ē

ďIt forces all the blood to my heart.Ē

Film ***

Itís hard for me to believe, but my 20 year high school reunion is just a couple of weeks away.  How did we all get this old?

Thatís a question I can imagine Alex Fletcher (Grant) asking himself.  He was a member of the mega-hit group Pop back in the 80s, until one member went on to become a huge star, and he went on to become nothing (think: Andrew Ridgely of Wham.  And donít you dare email me asking me ďwho?Ē).  While Iíve been living the past 20 years of my life in post-high school glory, Alex has lived his in the strange but increasingly comfortable fold of has-been celebrity.  In fact, you wonít believe the offer heís getting at the beginning of the movie.

Music and Lyrics is a romantic comedy, and as such, itís like an old favorite love song that comes on the radio.  You may try and tell yourself itís cheesy, itís unoriginal, it doesnít have anything insightful to say, but doggone it, like a catchy melody, it hooks you and stays with you.  I tend to think we like pop music and romantic comedies for exactly the same reason.

Alex continues making the fair and farm show circuit, but his agent (the affable Garrett) comes up with an unbelievable offer.  Cora Corman (Bennett) is the hottest star in the world, and as fate would have it, sheís a big fan of Pop.  She offers Alex a chance of a lifetime:  write her a new song.  He has very little time, and he has to compete, and besides that, heís not very good with words, so what can he do?

Enter Sophie Fisher (Barrymore), a charming but neurotic girl who shows up at first just to tend to his plants, but it turns out she has the gift for gab that Alex lacks.  And Alex, sensing that something wonderful in Sophie is dying to come out, persuades her to give it a try.  Soon, the unlikely pair find they can indeed make beautiful music together.  In fact, both of the stars do their own singing in the movie.  And itís not as bad as you might think.

Itís pretty safe and formulaic stuff, but I responded to it, as did many audience members.  The charm of the stars is undeniable.  Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore are comfortable and believable, and more important, likeable.  I also enjoyed the constant 80s references and jokes (ďDid you catch Battle of the 80s Has-Beens last night?  That Debbie Gibson can sure take a punchÖĒ), and just the exploration of the creative process, which, in the hands of the right artist, is always satisfying to share.  Writer/director Marc Lawrence does an admirable job.

Like an infectious pop song, Music and Lyrics is the kind of entertainment that is short, fun, and makes you feel good, and lets you hum along for a good while after without having to think too much about it.

Video ***

Warner does a fine job overall with this anamorphic transfer.  Itís generally clean and clear throughout, with just a touch of softness and noticeable grain in a few of the darker shots.

Audio ***

Itís mostly dialogue oriented, and yes, with a few songs here and there, so the 5.1 audio offers a more than adequate track, with clear dialogue and dynamic range, but not a lot of demand on the subwoofer or rear channels.

Features **

The extras include some deleted scenes, a gag reel, a making-of featurette, and the full music video for ďPop Goes My HeartĒ.  Gnarly!

Summary:

Sure, itís light on substance and kind of bubble-gummy, but so was 80s music.  And thatís why we like it.  There are enough things in the world to take seriously.  Sometimes we just want to pull our favorite record out of the sleeve, drop the needle, crank up the stereophonic sound and just chill.

What?  Am I dating myself again?

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