I will unabashedly say I thoroughly enjoyed this formulaic romantic comedy, given the trailer already revealed everything there is to the story. What really cracked me up was the opening credits, which blended in a cheesy pop music video of fictional group PoP, with the frequent soft focus, bad hair, loud costumes, cheesy lovey-dovey lyrics, synchronized dances, all totally spot on, bringing back the nostalgic 80s which I grew up in, with bubblegum groups that came and went, and from which PoP the band was moulded from - acts like Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, and in being a Wham! clone too, with the songs featured and that obvious reference to the George Michael-Andrew Ridgeley split.
Hugh Grant hams it up as Alex Fletcher, the Ridgely of PoP, now a has-been who's touring the small time attractions circuit to do little jigs, living in past glories and seeking that opportunity for a decent comeback. As luck would have it, the current teenage pop sensation Cora Corman (Haley Bennett, totally hot) was a fan of PoP, and has now invited him to write a song for her, which she would use in her debut world tour, as well as to be included in her CD album.
As you would have it, Fletcher can whip up melodies, but totally suck at writing lyrics, especially when he's out of the scene without new material for so long. Enter Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), a has-been aspiring writer who does the occasional slogan writing, and by chance, the two of them develop romantic bonds as they struggle through to finish a new song, while battling past emotional baggage as well as the challenges which come together with new relationships. The usual boy meets, loves, loses, tries his best to win her, all over again.
But the formula worked because the journey to that predictable destination worked, and fused with wit, comedy, song and dance, complete with a cliche though likable supporting cast which includes Kristen Johnston (from television series 3rd Rock From the Sun). I've only watched a handful of Hugh Grant movies, and from what I've seen so far, he definitely has a certain old school boyish charm in addition to his perfect comic timing. Drew Barrymore is an old hand at rom-coms, and as usual, her effervescence bubbled through without her breaking a sweat. Between the two, Barrymore was pretty much a clone of her other roles, but Grant stole the show in almost every scene with his antics as Fletcher, and who can forget those tight pants, cheesy lines, "motorcycle handlebar" dance steps, and that shaking of the booty.
And speaking of shaking of the booty, newbie Haley Bennett does her fair share as Cora Corman the sexy teenage pop star. With that angelic face, va-va-voom bod and those uber sexy moves, expect male hearts to be racing. An amalgamation of Britney, Shakira and Christina, she has the moves, she has the vocals and she's clad in outfits that will challenge all three of them. In the movie though, Cora Corman is a rather aloof and spoilt star, loud when she's performing, and soft-spoken when she's not. One who preaches zen and buddhism in her music and video sets, but yet oozes tons of sexual energy to put religion to shame. That scene in which she adds her two cents worth, is just jaw dropping. She's the real deal here, although Grant and Barrymore don't shirk when it comes to the microphone.
There are plenty of beautiful (albeit cheesy) love songs in Music and Lyrics, and I'm tempted to get the soundtrack. Yes really. And I'll shamelessly recommend this movie should you need that romantic-comedy fix, or are pondering over a date movie this week.
Just some trivia - Haley Bennett is up and coming, and hasn't signed with any record labels yet, though she has already signed a 3 picture deal with Warner Bros, so we should expect to see more of her on the big screen. For those who are on MySpace, why not add her as a friend?