DVD Review: Music and Lyrics
Release Date: May 8, 2007
Distributor: Warner Home Video
· Marc Lawrence
· Hugh Grant
· Drew Barrymore
· Brad Garrett
· Kristen Johnston
· Haley Bennett
· IMDb: Music and Lyrics
by R.J. Carter
Published: May 8, 2007
I must have dropped my masculinity somewhere, because I found myself actually enjoying this chick-flick. It's not that I don't normally enjoy Drew Barrymore in action -- because I do -- but rather that I had always been less than impressed with ladies' man Hugh Grant. In "Music and Lyrics," however, both actors play well off each other, solidly hitting each note and developing a harmony that carries the film.
And with that said, we get the all-too-easy and all-too-obvious musical puns out of the way.
The story revolves around Alex Fletcher (Grant), the forgotten half of an 80s pop duo named, rather unimaginatively, PoP!. Alex has managed to keep up a somewhat floundering career since his PoP! partner split from the group to develop a wildly successful solo act. These days, Alex performs for high school reunions, county fairs, theme parks, and whatever gigs his manager Chris Riley (Brad Garrett) can arrange.
While entertaining an invitation to appear on CW's "Battle of the 80s Has-Beens" -- a show where off-the-radar idols box each other for the right to perform -- he receives an invitation from up-and-coming superstar diva Cora Corman (played by ingenue Haley Bennett.) Cora's a mix of Shakira and Britney Spears -- full of sex appeal, hip joints where the cartilage has been surgically replaced with WD-40, and a rather unique and specious grasp on eastern religion. In brief, she's super hot and very vapid. And she needs a new song, to be titled "A Way Back Into Love", which she's asking Alex Fletcher to write. It's a love song to mend her broken heart after breaking up with her boyfriend of two months. She even wants Alex to perform the song with her at Madison Square Garden in two weeks -- but since it's also going to go on the new CD, nearly finished, she needs to have it by the end of the week.
The problem with this is that Alex's songwriting skills aren't his strong suit, his own attempt at a solo album being the proof. So his manager hires a lyricist to come in with the assist.
Enter Sophie Fisher (Barrymore) -- no, she's not the lyricist, she's the temporary replacement for his plant lady. She's flighty, hypochondriacal, and a neurotic mess. But, as Alex works with the psychotic lyricist, he overhears her humming the tune they're working on, coming up with half-finished lyrics of her own. Sophie, it turns out, has a savant-like skill when it comes to writing poetry -- so it's out with the psycho, and in with Sophie, who initially refuses the offer, but then rethinks her position after cajoling from her sister Rhonda (Kristen Johnston), a huge Alex Fletcher fan!
"My God. You are Cole Porter in panties. Of course, having said that, Cole Porter probably did wear panties."|
-- Alex Fletcher
As the two begin working together, they begin to see their insecurities mirrored in each other. Sophie has been victimized by a literature professor with whom she had an affair -- only to find out the professor was engaged. Now the teacher is on a book tour with a wildly successful novel in which the lead character is a thinly-veiled version of Sophie. Meanwhile, Alex has psychologically held himself back, masking his feelings of inferiority and hurt that his former partner went on to success using songs that Alex had helped work on.
Duet. Sophie and Alex cut the demo of their completed song.
(L-R: Barrymore, Grant)
Naturally, Alex begins to develop feelings for the quirky and talented Sophie, and by the time the song is completed and delivered to Cora, they've formed a relationship. But when Cora changes the entire core of the song to a Hindu-sexual atrocity, Sophie can't stop herself from standing up for the integrity of the piece -- and Alex can't help but stop her, seeing the work only as work. This creates the "boy loses girl" portion of the story, and sets the audience up for an ending of Alex redeeming himself not only as a person, but as a songwriter.
The thing that impressed me the most of this movie is that, when you see someone singing -- whether it be Barrymore, Grant, or Bennett -- it's the real deal, not a lip synch to a ghost-artist. Which is a pretty good indication that Bennett is likely to be launching into a pop career of her own quite soon.
The bonus features on this release include eleven minutes of deleted scenes, which fill in some of the holes in the story (resolving, somewhat, each of the main characters' old issues), and a four-minute gag reel of flubbed lines and on-set cutting up. Director Marc Lawrence is joined by cast and crew for the thirteen-minute obligatory making-of documentary, "Note for Note: The Making of 'Music and Lyrics'", which is the only place you'll find any sort of commentary from the cast members. And, for a dash of fun, there's the full music video of "PoP! Goes My Heart", by the fictitious group. (This is the same video that plays during the opening credits, only uninterrupted.) This thing just screams 80s in visuals and sound.
Audio can be set to English 5.1, French 5.1 or Spanish 5.1, with subtitles available in each.
Previews on this disc include "Nancy Drew", "No Reservations", "The Astronaut Farmer", Seinfeld Season 8, and "In the Land of Women".