In 'Music and Lyrics', Hugh Grant plays Alex Fletcher, a former 80's pop star who revels in the glory days of his past success with an upbeat, tongue in cheek, self-deprecating attitude. Chances are you've seen Grant in this kind of a role before – in 'Bridget Jones diary', 'Two weeks notice', 'Love actually' and numerous other fluff romance films. This is him being himself, which then, by any definition of the term, isn't him actually acting. Which also means, he's just collecting his paycheck.
The good things in 'Music and Lyrics' happen rather early on. There is the hilarious opening montage which features Alex in a video from 1984 with his band Pop, singing and swaying Wham-like to a very retro tune. Then we meet his new plant-lady Sophie (Drew Barrymore, also in her umpteenth casting as the cute, innocent, girl next door) who joins him completely by accident, on a quest to write a new hit tune for the current teen pop sensation (shades of Britney here, severely overdone and then eventually driven off the cliff) in record time. All of this is reassuringly funny, if not very original. But not a lot happens in the film once the song is complete (which occurs about mid way through), so we are given one incredulous subplot after another. There are too many to mention, but the one that really makes the film sink is, brace yourself for this, the side serving of Sophie's past as the allegedly lunatic lover of her university professor, a man by the name of Sloan Coates (the always reliable Campbell Scott), who wrote a book about her and forever destroyed her sense of self-esteem. This, in a film titled 'Music and Lyrics'.
It becomes very clear as the movie trudges and plods very painfully to the 90 minute mark that what must have sounded like a good idea on paper (and, I must confess, in the amusing trailers for the film as well) doesn't have enough juice to last the length of the duration required for a full feature. So much of Grants delivery, witty and spontaneous as it seems, sounds improvised and just put together that he stands nearly alone in trying to move the proceedings forward. Then there is the obligatory concert finale. Sports films have their big matches and last minute inspirational speeches; movies like 'Music and Lyric' can only muster to fade away with a silly stage performance and an embarrassing love song. - Faizan Rashid