Dull, formulaic and a film which may break records for featuring the most actors going through the motions on screen at the one time, 'Music and Lyrics' is, to put it mildly, one to miss.
First the positives; although almost everything else is woeful, it must be said that the music is not quite as awful as it could have been. The film's opening tune, 'Pop Goes My Heart', is a somewhat funny parody of 1980s awfulness - replete with bad dancing, crazy piano-guitars and a humorously literal video.
"I said I wasn't going to lose my head, but then 'POP' goes my heart," sings Hugh Grant from a hospital trolley with a monitor ticking away beside him. At this point the audience could be forgiven for thinking they might be in for an hour-and-a-half or so of pleasantly fluffy nonsense. Oh, if only.
We begin with Alex Fletcher (Grant), a down on his luck 1980s pop star so low in the celebrity-osphere he's considering appearing on 'Battle of the 80s Has Beens', a celebrity boxing TV show. As with much of this film, the premise is far funnier than what eventually finds its way onto the screen.
Anyway, Grant/Fletcher's life is flagging. He has, of course, one chance to turn things around. If he can write a hit song by Friday, he might just get to be an F-list star instead of the Z-lister he's become. There is, of course, a problem: he can only write rubbish lyrics!
Enter Drew Barrymore, yawn-inducingly 'kooky', as the love interest. Supposedly a genius lyricist - although she seemed mostly to spout doggerel that a rhyming dictionary would be ashamed of - she may just hold the key to Grant/Fletcher's song. With Barrymore's slightly less rubbish lyrics and Grant's command of predictable chord progressions this crazy plan just might work!
Cue predictable and totally un-fun drama. Often, the actors just don't seem to care. Grant occasionally delivers his lines as though he has no idea what he's saying while Barrymore, the 'writer', cultivates a pen clicking habit that is, perhaps because of the dross going on all around her, immensely infuriating. At one point, Kirsten Johnson, a fine actress seen here as Barrymore's Grant/Fletcher obsessed sister, delivers an embarrassingly unconvincing pop fan's shriek that is symptomatic of the general malaise happening all around her.
To be fair, the actors are not entirely to blame. So often does this script force them to spout reams of sub-'Friends' relationshippy nonsense that it would be entirely understandable if they had lost the will to try somewhere between rehearsals, if any actually took place, and filming. The script also contains the worst of all comedic forms; unsuccessful and unfunny parody, this time of modern pop divas (by the otherwise likeable newcomer Haley Bennett).
"I write way too many words in my scripts," director Marc Lawrence cheerfully admits in the promo literature. "Thankfully, Hugh (Grant) doesn't object." That's because he's paid about five million quid, Marc! Reason enough for Hugh to 'act' in this film? Absolutely. Should anyone see it? Under no circumstances.