We search for perfect romantic comedies the way we search a chocolate box for our favorite sweet of all. Music and Lyrics is a trifle in a pretty box, a chocolate no one has yet bitten a corner from that turns out to be very good indeed. Two things elevate it above the obvious charms of its leads, Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant: the snappy script and the music itself, in which the writers are spot-on in every genre.
PG-13 for some sexual content
There is chemistry between the pair. Alex Bennett (Grant), one of the former stars of PoP!, is now happy to be an ’80s has-been. He’s resting on his laurels, living on the royalties and the proceeds from amusement-park gigs for crowds of adoring forty-five-year-old women, when Sophie (Barrymore), the plant-waterer’s quirky substitute, comes in and fills in some of his blanks. If you can believe that someone who got famous twenty years ago would have a plant waterer then you will have no trouble believing that this pair fall in love.
Music and Lyrics has broken no new ground, yet the banter is pleasurable and the apings of various musical styles are a hoot. And director/screenwriter Marc Lawrence (best known for Miss Congeniality and its sequel) deserves credit for not trying to make any of these people look better than they really are: Alex is not only witty and cute but also craven and pathetic from time to time and Sophie is a collection of tics and self-doubt; in this story writing a song together doesn’t give them the total personality- or life-transplant that so many writers would have us believe in.
Ignore the sad little trailers on TV and see this on a day when you could use a laugh or two. If the sight of Hugh Grant in full Duran-Duran regalia and hair doesn’t give you a chuckle, I’m not sure you still have a beating heart. By the time the credits roll, though (stick around if you want to know what happened to the rest of PoP! and how the romantic duo’s song fared), even you may even find it impressive that Grant is truly singing the cloying pop jingles you hear throughout the film. Ditto for the talented third wheel of this romantic comedy, Haley Bennett, who plays Cora, exactly what you’d get if you genetically crossed Madonna, Britney, and Shakira and who “thinks the Dalai Lama is really a llama.” This comedy’s heart is as sweet as the filling of your favorite chocolate in the box and equally worth seeking out.