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Charlotte Amalie
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'Music and Lyrics' Charms Even the Cynics

Feb. 27, 2007 –- "Music and Lyrics" is the kind of movie the critics would love to hate but simply cannot. A romantic comedy with a tired story line, starring Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant, the film has charmed reluctant critics, big time.
Witness Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, the frequently acerbic film critic of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Over-thinking the movie is a waste of time. Barrymore and Grant really are – I hate this word, but they just are adorable."
Or Matt Stevens in E! Online: "But for all the predictability and plot contrivances, this tuneful rom-com — like the silly love songs it both spoofs and embraces — proves surprisingly entertaining."
Or Ty Burr in the Boston Globe: "It's so unoriginal yet so adorable that your own leg may start kicking reflexively as the movie scratches you in the sweet spot."
So, get it? The movie works. It's really good.
Grant plays Alex Fletcher, an '80s sensation as part of a hugely successful rock band called PoP who's been reduced to the rubber chicken circuit. Suddenly he gets a chance at a comeback when reigning diva Cora Corman (Haley Bennett) invites him to record a duet with her.
But there's a problem. Fletcher has never written lyrics, and he has two days to produce. Where will he find a lyricist in that time? Where, indeed? Right in front of his nose. Silly Fletcher, he might have known.
Into Fletcher's New York apartment enters Barrymore as Sophie Fisher, his substitute plant-watering lady. And, she just happens to have a knack for wordplay. Exit: The audience's suspension of disbelief.
Burr says, "So why are we still here? Because the two are so darned cute together. Grant and Barrymore have complimentary stammers: He does his wicked, self-effacing, post-Divine Brown cynicism thing (and director and writer Marc Lawrence's dialogue is just sharp enough to put it over), while she settles down and gives us a believable girl-woman with a smidgen of attention-deficit disorder."
Gillespie says, "If you don't like Grant, this film isn't going to change your mind. He's doing the sputtering, self-deprecating thing he usually does — and does better than anyone else around. If you do like Barrymore, you'll like her even more, even if she does borrow some of Diane Keaton's trademark dithering. She brings a screwball integrity to the role, even at its most clichéd."
Gillespie says the movie takes a lamentably short look at the idea of "has-been-ness" in show business: "the bottom-feeding status of so-called retro-artists, caught up in a nostalgia cash cow that refuses to let them fade away peacefully. When Alex plays a 20th high school reunion, he's mobbed by adoring menopausal fans."
And there's every indication that he (and Barrymore) will be mobbed by those of us, menopausal or not, who still can still enjoy a "cute" comedy without feeling guilty — sort of like watching all the Academy Awards, complete with the Barbara Walters.
Go for it.
It runs for 96 minutes and is rated PG-13 for some sexual content. Thank heavens.
It starts Thursday at Market Square East.

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