Thursday, February 8, 2007

Music, Lyrics, Yawning

music & lyrics

You may not have noticed, as almost no-one has been covering it, that Hugh Grant has a new film coming out tomorrow.

Called Music & Lyrics, it's all about writing hit singles - and if that hasn't set warning bells ringing already, consider that Hugh Grant is supposed to be a pop star in it.

He plays Alex Fletcher, the keyboard player in an '80s band called Pop (the script never really aims above "will this do", as you can see). The film starts with a 'music video' from the height of the group's fame. It is exactly what film directors think music videos look like - i.e. not much cop. Still, it raises a smile.

hugh grantFast-foward to the present day and Grant is a washed-up has-been, playing gigs in theme parks and schlepping around the reality TV circuit to scrape a dollar together. Yet he lives in an superbly appointed apartment in the centre of New York, with a brand-name grand piano in his living room.

What's more, he is so loaded that he employs a girl to come round and water his plants three times a week! Given that his apartment has about four plants, this is either luxury or folly on a grand scale. Possibly both. But, seeing as the plant girl is yummy Drew Barrymore, I'll forgive him for squandering his money in this irresponsible manner. She can water my plants any time, as it were.

Things get interesting when Grant is contacted by pop diva Cora Corman (bigger than Britney and Christina put together, we're told) to write her next single. Struggling with writer's block, Grant is saved by Barrymore who - deus ex machina! - happens to be an amazing lyric writer. Her couplets include: "I could use some direction, and I'm open to your suggestion". Brilliance, no?

yummy drew barrymoreFrom here, everything sticks quite rigidly to the rom-com checklist. They fall in love, tick! There's a montage of them being happy, tick! Grant does something stupid causing her to storm out, tick! She falls back into his arms when he makes a grand gesture in the final scene, tick, tick, tick!

And, crucially for a film about music, the songs are terrible. Schlocky, schmaltzy exercises in banality. Which is a pity, because some of them came direct from Britney's producers, Bloodshy & Avant.

I'm probably giving the impression that I hated the film, but that's not quite true. The two leads are superb, fleshing out their poorly written characters with the charm and vulnerability they need. And Grant has some rather good (ad-libbed?) one-liners that make the comedy, well, comedic. It's just a shame he can't help grinning at his own jokes.

If you're heading out on a date for Valentine's Day, you could do a lot worse than going to see Music & Lyrics (slaying your potential partner's entire family in a tragic creme brulee mishap, for example). Otherwise, wait until you're really miserable and get it out on DVD. It'll go down well with a bucket of tears and a side order of Haagen Dazs.

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