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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Music and Lyrics

I love Drew Barrymore, Dear Readers, I do, but for the past few years I’ve worried about her. I have. We all know about her shady teen past and those numerous brushes with drugs, alcohol, s-e-x, and who knows what else. Her only blessing was to have grown up just a heartbeat *before* everybody and their brother had a gossip blog, a gossip tv show, or a subscription to a dozen gossip tabloid magazines. We were spared the 24 hour a day reporting of whether she was wearing panties at any given moment, a preoccupation about today’s Bimbo Flavors of the Month that formerly legitimate media bastions such as CNN, Time, and Newsweek have sadly been polluted into covering (or would that be uncovering?).

Anyway, Drew, my little darling of the crinkled nose and crooked smile, is too cute for her own good and I love her more than housecleaning, so when she married that humor-free ‘alleged’ comedian Tom Green I worried. He may be a perfectly nice young man, but he is about as talented as a juggler with one ball, and if anyone knows how to juggle with one ball I guarantee you Tom Green is a pro. If you don’t believe me, just Google it yourself and then you’ll understand. Really. But I digress. Then came Fabrizio Moretti, drummer for the band The Strokes, which followed her divorce from Green, and I thought Drew was taking a sidestep but possibly a small adventure that could prove fun. After all, every girl deserves to enjoy a trip to Italy before they turn 30, if you know what I mean (and I’m sure that you do). That eventually petered out, so to speak, and now, at 31 (she turns 32 this week) Darling Drew has come before us with a new movie chock full of romance, music, and love. An inspired move brought on during her happy
times with Fabrizio? Could be, but what frightens me is that on her press junket for this high energy outing, Music and Lyrics, now at the Essex Cinemas, our Drew seems downright smitten, head-over-heals, giggling school girl crush ga-ga over her co-star Hugh Grant. Okay, I like Hugh Grant. I enjoy his work. He is the spot on Cary Grant (pronounced “Grawhnt-”) throwback who seems the perfect gentleman who ought to eat, drink and sleep in a tuxedo, but in Music and Lyrics, next to Drew he looks old. I’m sorry, Dear Readers, but he does. I know he is only 46 in real life, but in this role he looks like he needs to be ironed. He’s pale and wrinkled and generally bumbling and confused looking all the time. And Drew looks totally smitten! I’m afraid my Drew is reverting back to form and falling for this leading man because he reminds her of one of her first co-stars and crushes, E.T. the Extraterrestrial.

I kid because I care, Dear Readers, and I do care. I care a lot about Music and Lyrics. It is the perfect date movie. It is romantic without being sappy, it is funny without being embarrassing (except to Hugh because of his 1980s flashback sequence featuring a killer wardrobe during the “Pop! Goes My Heart” video number), it’s sexy without being crude, and it’s got some catchy pop music that will crawl into your head and stay there for days. That may be its biggest drawback. I’ve had the song “Making My Way Back Into Love” stuck in my brain all weekend, like background music to my life. Thank goodness it is a pretty song. It could have been some Rob Zombie thing and that would have been a whole different experience. At least this makes me smile, which is what Music and Lyrics is all about.

In the movie Hugh Grant (
American Dreamz) plays the washed-up half of the ‘80s pop duo Pop! (think Wham!) where one member wanted to split and went on to be knighted and achieve great riches and fame (a la George Michael) while the other (think um, I’ll have to go look it up… Andrew Ridgeley) went on to obscurity and second-rate gigs reliving his glory days at state fairs and amusement parks in front of his now thinning throngs of middle-aged fans longing to recapture a few moments of their teen years. This is the fate of Hugh’s Alex Fletcher. The best his manager Chris (Brad Garrett; currently starring on tv’s “Til Death”) can get him is a tv shot on “Battle of the ‘80s Hasbeens”, a show that pits rock and pop acts from that era against one another in the boxing ring. In other words, Alex’s life pretty much sucks.

Then a miracle appears. The biggest act in show biz, a wispy blonde airhead (think Britney but with talent like Christina and connections like Madonna) decides that she wants to include a song by Alex on her next album to sum up her feelings about moving on since the heart-wrenching break-up of her long-term relationship (all of two months). Oh, and she wants to premiere the song on this coming Friday when she is to appear at her already sold-out Madison Square Garden concert. Alex has three days to come up with a masterpiece to rescue his career from oblivion (or at least weekends headlining at Adventureland on Long Island).

Herein lies the problem. Alex hasn’t written a song in ten years, and the only lyricist he’s ever worked with is his former Pop! partner. Apparently the notion of contacting him isn’t even an option because it isn’t brought up but Chris does arrange for Alex to meet with noted lyricist Greg Antonsky (Jason Antoon;
The Ten), an arrogant elitist who prefers to write about anarchy and anger than about love and happiness. It is while they are struggling to work together that Sophie Fletcher (Drew Barrymore; Curious George) steps in unexpectedly. Sophie is Alex’s substitute “plant lady”, there to tend to the houseplants he has scattered throughout his apartment. She happens to share her thoughts about one of the lines, and when her idea about Antonsky’s lyrics infuriate the cranky writer he bolts in a fury, leaving her alone with Alex, who is actually relieved since he agrees with her assessment of Antonsky’s work and likes her ideas much better. The next step is for Alex to convince Sophie to help him write the song.

Of course we all know where this is headed before it even begins. There will be complications and Sophie will have her reasons for not wanting to write (wrapped up in the persona of Campbell Scott;
The Exorcism of Emily Rose) but by the end there will be a great song, the aforementioned “Making My Way Back Into Love” and love will have blossomed between the two. The audience will find themselves filled with the satisfaction of seeing two of their favorite romantic comedy icons linked cinematically together forever, and the world will be a better place for having Music and Lyrics in it.

Okay, so maybe it is not going to bring world peace, cure cancer, or make Lindsay Lohan stop drinking, but it is a delightful bit of fluff that will keep you smiling throughout, and there aren’t many things these days that can promise you that. Check it out at the
Essex Cinemas and see for yourself. It’s like a mini- vacation from the snow.

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