There are certain things you know you shouldn't enjoy, like eating untoasted Pop Tarts or watching politicians getting indicted. I suspect Music and Lyrics, now out on DVD, is one of those things, but damn if I didn't enjoy it anyway.
Just to be clear, this is no comedy masterpiece. If Howard Hawks was still alive, he would not feel threatened. In fact, if you brought it up, he would just hand you a copy of His Girl Friday and tell you to piss off.
Here's the story in case you missed the blitzkrieg of ads when the film debuted. Hugh Grant is a washed-up 80s pop star (the Andrew Ridgeley portion of the Wham! equation). He's given a chance to write a song for a Christina Aguilera-style singer, but he needs a lyricist. That's where insecure poet and plant waterer Drew Barrymore comes into the picture. Romance and hijinks ensue.
While there are quite a few good lines in Music and Lyrics and a nice atmosphere of irreverence, you know you're basically watching the film equivalent of a Twinkie and not an eclair. Drew Barrymore, as sweet as she is, just isn't magnetic enough to do the heavy romantic comedy lifting. The movie does benefit enormously from sweet and sullen Brad Garrett as Hugh Grant's manager and manic and bossy Kristen Johnston as Barrymore's sister. Aside from all of that, there is just one very simple reason why Music and Lyrics works and his name is Hugh Grant.
I'm just going to lay it out right here: Hugh Grant is an extraordinarily funny man. If you don't believe me, just listen to any of his DVD commentaries or read this interview about Music and Lyrics. When asked about singing in the movie, here's what he said: "I couldn’t believe how clever the computers are now. You can literally bark like a dog and it comes back like Pavarotti." He is witty, caustic and world-weary, and he brings those sensibilities to this movie. He knows it's not Shakespeare but he's still going to do his best to entertain you. And it works. And I might just watch the movie again. And then I might watch Four Weddings and a Funeral and maybe Love Actually with a smidge of Bridget Jones thrown in for good measure....