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Movie Review: Music and Lyrics

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This is a confectionary treat for the non-discerning fan of the romantic comedy, a film featuring leads so likable that you are likely to gloss over the lack of actual character, content to let the sappiness and generally agreeable tale wash over you like so much warm sunshine. This is a movie content to drift along on the cliches, confident enough in itself that it can do so and survive, leaving you to walk out of the theater with the feeling that you saw a nice movie, rather than the thought that you had seen this somewhere else before.

Music and Lyrics is the perfectly agreeable date movie. It takes two of the most bankable romantic comedy stars, concocts a plot to put the two together, tosses in a roadblock or two, perhaps some miscommunication, and voila – a Valentine’s Day movie is born. As you can see, it practically writes itself.

While the story has that distinct “been there, done that” flow, and contains nothing we haven’t seen these two in before, there is still a sweet nature to it, something that goes down easy. I found myself enjoying it for some odd reason.

The story centers on Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) and his relationship with Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore). Alex is an aging pop star, having been in a mega successfully 80’s act called Pop (think of Wham), relegated to playing state fairs, amusement parks, and getting asked to “Battle of the 80s Has Beens.” His bandmate left and became a huge star, and now Alex is left on the outside looking in.

He has a shot at regaining some level of fame, as the current top pop diva, Cora, is a Pop fan and is looking for a Fletcher-penned song for her next single. Enter Sophie Fisher, a clutzy, insecure young woman who arrives in Alex’s life to water the plants. Sparks begin to fly when she is overheard singing some lyrics that would work for the song that Alex is working on.

Alex and Sophie work on the song together, and surely they fall in love, but the music business drives a wedge in between as they both have grown to seek different things with the song they created. Will they get past the roadblocks? Will they have a personal revelation that will set them on the right track to each others arms? Will you have to endure some of the lamest pop music you’ve ever heard? Will it end happily ever after? Are you kidding? How about all of the above.

As Music and Lyrics is structured, there is no room for any surprises. It floats along its predetermined course towards its inevitable conclusion, so please don’t be looking to the story for any source of romantic inspiration. The filmmakers certainly didn’t. For that matter, the characters of Alex and Sophie are terribly underwritten, to the point that the romance isn’t all that romantic. It sort of makes me wonder why I have any type of affection for it. Despite it all, there are some things about this movie I actually enjoyed, enough to give it a mild recommendation.

The main reason to enjoy this are the two leads. Both of them have great presence, they have nice chemistry, and are just very likable in these roles. I have found that likability of the stars and how they play their roles can go a long way in making a mediocre film enjoyable, and these two are definitely rom-com leaders. The other reason I liked it was the sheen of music business insider that it has.

Sure, it is a lighthearted comedy, but everything that had to do with the idea of the aging star looking to secure a legacy, or even prove to himself that he still has it, is nicely done. Alex Fletcher is a man who seems resigned to his has-been status, and has thus adopted a rather cynical view of the business, a view that Sophie doesn’t share, creating my favorite aspect of the film.

Bottomline. Is this a movie that will be remembered for a long time? No, but it is a cute enough diversion that it coasts by on a dose of sweetness bordering on the sickly. It makes a fine date movie and shows a couple of performers working within their signature genre.

Mildly Recommended.

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