Sunday, March 11, 2007
Music and Lyrics--A Review
Mr. Sweetie and I took adavantage of the kidlets having an overnight, and had a movie date. With dinner too! Here is post Oscar land, there is kind of a dearth of movies I want to see, but we both thought Music and Lyrics would be a decent date movie.
And it was. I know! Usually I am so critical! (A word here meaning once who looks carefully and considers many aspects of the finished project, evaluating dispassionately and evenhandedly--right?) This movie, though, exists purely on charm, and it did charm me.
Briefly, Hugh Grant plays an 80s pop has-been--The Other Guy from the mythical band Pop. Think Wham!, and he's the one who isn't George Michael. He's managed to make a living reprising his old hits at class reunions and amusement parks, happy to be working at all. (This is where the charm has started, of course--"I'm a Has Been and proud of it.")
Plot intervenes, and he is challenged to write a new song for the world's reigning Pop Tart--Britney + Shakira, with an Eastern mystical flair. Or, as they say in the movie "Buddha with a thong." He needs a lyricist, and Drew Barrymore has already done the Meet Cute. Of course, they find a mutual attraction, write The Song, hit difficulties, make up for a Happy Ending. The plot really doesn't bear any kind of examination, but that's not the point.
The point is in the throw-away nature of the lines and the witty writing. Hugh Grant is not the Bumbling Cute Englishman his has trademarked, but is a man happy that he has accomplished something with his life, and realistic that his time has passed. He tosses off self-deprecating lines while going about the business of life, with a casual effortlessness that lets the jokes sink in a fraction of a second after he's already gone on with his next bit of business.
Drew Barrymore has matured quite a bit from Charlie's Angels, and credibly plays the Meg Ryan role with a bit more shadows and hidden heartache. She has moments of such goofy and loving chemistry, especially in a scene set at her sister's house, where she has managed to bring Hugh Grant for dinner. Kristen Johnson is the older sister, who is still madly crushing on her pop music idol, and the interaction when her little sister reveals she's slept with him is hilarious. Johnson is simultaneously excited that someone she knows is this close to a (former) superstar, and worried aobut her little sister getting hurt. Barrymore is also producing a fine mix of triumph and embarassment. It is on such moments that the film coasts over its rough spots and in the end makes me certain I will see it again.
The music is largely by Adam Schlesinger, of Fountains of Wayne, and the man who wrote "That Thing You Do" for the movie of the same name. (In fact, that movie's studio held a contest for songwriters to write the theme song, which Adam won. . .coincidence? I don't think so.) He gets the 80s sound pretty right, although none of the songs are are unforgettable as That Thing You Do. But as someone who remembers how new and exciting the 80s sound was after the bloated pretensiousness of much of the music of the 70s ("Nights In White Satin" anybody?) it hit its target. Yes, I am, sadly, one of those women of a certain age the film so gently ribs.
Although, in my own defense, it would take more than Andrew Ridgely (the "other guy" from Wham) shaking his booty to get me asking for an autograph, or even stopping between rides at the theme park.