YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


With a song in their hearts

Romantic comedies may have fallen on hard times, but `Music and Lyrics' satisfies.

February 14, 2007|Michael Phillips | Chicago Tribune

When he vocalizes in the charming "Music and Lyrics," Hugh Grant sounds like Davy Jones of the Monkees relocated to the '80s, somewhere in the vicinity of Wham.

Grant plays Alex Fletcher, the second-best-known member of a Reagan-era band called PoP. Fifteen years after the band's dissolution Alex lives the single life in New York City, writing the occasional song, cashing the odd royalty check and trotting out his retro act for high school reunions and theme park patrons.

While Grant is a long way from playing Knott's Berry Farm, surely he can relate. The actor with the brittle, slightly tense brand of charisma and narrow but reliably effective comic range has done his thing, gamely, in many romantic comedies less wonderful than the one that made him a star, 1994's "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

Marc Lawrence wrote and directed one of the OK ones, "Two Weeks Notice," and he has re-teamed with Grant for "Music and Lyrics." Lawrence doesn't over-elaborate or gussy up the story, and his characters don't spend the film bickering.

It's not as if we expect the moon from a rom-com. Thanks to endurance tests such as "Failure to Launch" and "Because I Said So," lately it's achievement enough just to provide your stars with some latitude and a decent comeback or two.

Here Grant has an able partner in Drew Barrymore, who plays Sophie Fisher. Substituting for his regular plant lady, she shows up at Alex's apartment as he's sweating a deadline to find a lyricist to come up with a hit single commissioned by a Christina Aguilera-type superstar (Haley Bennett). Sooner than you can say "Cole Porter in panties!" -- which Alex does say at one point -- composer and newfound lyricist are slaving away at the piano. Then sex threatens to upend their newfound partnership.

Even when you don't buy the story details in "Music and Lyrics," you appreciate that Barrymore and Grant play well together, and that Lawrence lets some of the scenes go on a bit longer, and more interestingly, than most films of this type.

"Way Back Into Love," the song Alex and Sophie write together, recurs throughout "Music and Lyrics," and it's too bad it isn't more than just a pleasantly drippy ballad. Grant does well by the '80s song stylings, however. Light, sweet and agreeably confident, his voice is like the movie itself.


"Music and Lyrics." MPAA rating: PG-13 for some sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. In general release.

Los Angeles Times Articles