Friday, July 6, 2007


Well, I'm about to blow my art school cred for the billionth time, but I have to report that I rilly, rilly liked Music and Lyrics, a surprisingly smart, funny, touching - and oddly genuine - romantic comedy (or rom-com, if you're writing for Variety) that slipped in and out of theaters earlier this year. The characters are all intelligent and act accordingly; when the romance finally comes, it falls into the script so organically that even though it's right on cue, it's still affecting. Also, the milieu - a new songwriting partnership between a faded 80's pop star (modeled on Andrew Ridgley) and Drew Barrymore's neurotic writer - felt very real, which isn't something you often find in films of this kind. It gets the details right, so the characters can become more solid as well.

One detail totally nailed - that feeling of the first real day of a new relationship, when both people are hopeful and timid at once. Nicely done.

The end was a little pat, but, what the hell. At least it was genuinely funny, and even though the satiric targets (80's new wave pop bands, sexed-up teen pop starlets with delusions of enlightenment, reality TV and snobbish academic novelists) are easy targets, the jokes are all spot on and pretty fresh.

Of course, the casting is what makes these things work, and Hugh Grant's effortless charm and self-effacement combined with Barrymore's reinvention of the Annie Hall stereotype gets it done. I'll call it the best film of its kind since You've Got Mail, meaning that it's slick Hollywood product that nonetheless is more human and sincere than any number of Slamdance winners.

And hey! The song in question is genuinely catchy, and the lyrics are indeed solid, so it passes the dreadful test of having the piece at the center of the film be a tremendous vacuum, which is always a danger. See Eddie and the Cruisers II for clarification on what a train wreck a film can be when everyone in the story appears to have lost their mind by responding to an utter hunk of rock and roll crap as if it were stone genius on the order of "Strawberry Fields Forever."

To top it off, they only have the final recorded version of the song in the film once, so the development of it pays off very well.

Anyway, see it. There are far, far worse ways to waste $4.00 at Blockbuster and 90 minutes of your time.


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