February 25, 2007 -- Good romantic comedies are hard to find these days, so you cherish the films that do succeed in this tough-to-perfect genre. The latest on a short list of romantic comedies to make the grade is “Music and Lyrics,” starring a couple of actors with a lot of experience and success in this genre, Hugh Grant (“Love Actually”) and Drew Barrymore (“Fever Pitch”). While the romance in the film is a bit weak, the comedy is very strong. This is a film with plenty of witty, clever dialogue.
Grant plays a washed up pop star, Alex Fletcher, who had been in a boy band in the 1980s. Now he is reduced to playing county fairs, Holiday Inns and amusement parks. Barrymore plays Sophie Fisher, who works for her sister's (Kristen Johnston of “Strangers With Candy”) weight loss company writing jingles. Fletcher happens to meet Sophie when he is under pressure to write a hit song for pop superstar Cora Corman (played by newcomer Haley Bennett). It turns out that Sophie has a gift for writing lyrics. Fletcher and Fisher work non-stop to write a hit pop song and they begin to fall in love. Well, you know the drill, things don't work out that easily. There are problems and setbacks along the way.
Grant and Barrymore have chemistry (and good singing voices) and Haley Bennett is very convincing as the sexually overt, Spears-like teen idol. Johnston (formerly an outrageous comic powerhouse on the TV series “Third Rock From the Sun”) is very funny. Brad Garrett of “The Pacifier,” effectively plays Fletcher's loyal, long-suffering manager, Chris Riley. This is Garrett's best movie role yet after his long run on the hit TV show “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Unlike most comedies these days, the film does not rely on sight gags and pratfalls for its humor. Instead, the script, by Marc Lawrence (“Miss Congeniality”) is loaded with sharp, witty dialogue and good one-liners.
Hugh Grant is famous for his deft handling of one-liners and his performance in this film is no exception. In one scene, he says “The best time I've had in the last fifteen years was sitting at that piano with you.” Sophie replies “That's wonderfully sensitive... especially from a man who wears such tight pants.” He replies, “It forces all the blood to my heart.” This movie has more witty lines in any 10 minute clip than most comedies have in the entire film. It rates a B.
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