U.S. Release Date: February 14, 2007
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Marc Lawrence
Cast: Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore
Running Time: 1 hour and 36 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (some sexual content)

Cupid Scores a Cute, Catchy Hit
by Scott Holleran

Cupid's arrow strikes a bull's eye with Warner Bros.' clever blend of romance, light comedy and pop nostalgia in Marc Lawrence's Music and Lyrics. The writer and director (Two Weeks Notice) recovers from the wreckage of Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous with a zippy little date movie.

Music and Lyrics does not offer much more, and it won't be mistaken for a Forties' banter picture, but it plays in that key, laying clear, Eighties melodies—in the New Romantic style popularized by Duran Duran and Tears for Fears—over the story of a struggling songwriter (Hugh Grant) and his perky muse (Drew Barrymore).

Mr. Grant plays half of a New Wave duo in a band called PoP—a thinly disguised take on Andrew Ridgeley's and George Michael's Wham! ("Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go")—and Music and Lyrics opens with one of PoP's music videos from that happy era of short riffs, synthesizer beats and lyrics you could understand. The pair jumps, bops and does that Eighties hop and skip in letter-perfect costume, hair and set design. The catchy confection loops its way through the movie.

But the front pair's other half moved on to stardom while Mr. Grant's musician wound up playing solo at his Manhattan pad's piano, occasionally strutting for high school reunion groupies and barely paying the bills, manager Brad Garrett's best efforts notwithstanding. About the only pop left in the aging pin-up is the sound of his hip needing replacement.

Enter a flaky plant lady (Barrymore) with a knack for cute lyrics—right on cue. When a Britney-ish pop tart (newcomer Haley Bennett) invites him to write a song for the new album on a tight deadline, guess who steps in to provide words to Hugh Grant's music? The couple lock horns over art—the pop tart mangles music with mystical chants—and profit and whether both are compatible.

Along with Miss Barrymore's poetry comes an ex-boyfriend professor (Campbell Scott) who denigrates her ability, a big sister (Kristen Johnston) with a crush on Mr. Grant's character, and the Music and Lyrics thesis—best rendered after an amusement park performance—to go for it in love and in life.

Hardly a symphony, Music and Lyrics, like good, old three-minute AM radio music, is worth every second on its own terms. Miss Barrymore and Mr. Grant have made careers out of playing these types of roles and they mesh, especially in scenes of creative collaboration, which results in their signature "feel-good" tune, "Way Back into Love," written by Adam Schlesinger (who wrote the title song for Tom Hanks's That Thing You Do) which also works nicely.

Garrett is good as the big palooka, Johnston scores several laughs as the married sister, and Steve Glazman's music video stylings are spot on. The only thing missing from the clever, romantic Music and Lyrics, in which musician and lyricist hold a mirror to each other's virtues, is a few more songs. Stick around for the credits.

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