Wednesday, 2 January 2008

DVD: Music and Lyrics

Lowdown: A has-been makes a come-back thanks to a random-encounter.
When dictionaries want to explain the meaning of the term “type cast”, the example they surely bring up is Hugh Grant. I don’t know how long he has been playing the Commonos Hughestos Grantos type character for, but I have to hand it to him: when he does, he does it well, and even better – it works. Grant has this talent to appear in innocent like films that do not knock you off your seat but are still quite enjoyable, and in Music and Lyrics he repeats the act.
The plot is everything we have seen before. A has-been pop star, modeled after Wham’s rather forgettable drummer who always played second fiddle to George Michael, is about to go down: with all of his talent, the only places where he can still perform his stuff are fairs and such. However, a stupid pop star teenager who is described as more successful than Britney to the power of Christina asks him to compete for writing a song on her next CD with eight other has-beens. Never doubting the need to cooperate with the devil in order to become famous again, Grant seeks the help of a lyricist to help him write his revival song, only that he can’t find any that share his vision for a proper love song.
His problems are overcome when a new florist is coming to take care of his New York apartment’s vegetation. Drew Barrymore pops by for a minute and in a couple of seconds draws a few rhyming one liners that make the basis for a splendid song. Can Grant recruit Barrymore to help him on his noble cause? Can Barrymore fight off the ghosts of her past and come up with good lyrics? Will Grant manage to have a hit while avoiding throwing out all of his and Barrymore’s ideals down the drain? Does anyone have any doubts that this film is going to have the happiest ending possible?
With such a predictable plot it’s hard to pinpoint at why Music and Lyrics works, but it does. I guess some of it is to do with my age and the appeal that a Wham based character would have to a person who grew up in an environment where every girl in his primary school class was in love with George Michael. But there has to be more than that: it’s the combination of witty jokes thrown throughout the film, the comical performances the film is full of, and the adverse sarcasm with which the film is quite full. I mean, the entire premises of the film are based on the good guy using the success of a young teenager pop star who is portrayed as dumb and materialistic and whose success has a lot to do with her pornification; the film thus suggests a theory of “if you can’t beat them join/exploit them” to us viewers tired of seeing whatever it is that constantly goes on in contemporary culture and pop culture in particular. You’re allowed to pretend that you’re an alternative music listening rebel even if you’re really mainstream pop.
Best scene: The film starts by showing us a made up eighties like music video of a song by Grant’s Wham like old band. The song is stupidly catchy, just like the old Wham songs, and the video is more eighties than eighties – it’s stupidly funny.
Picture and sound quality: Ordinary.
Overall: Nothing to expand one horizon’s with, but a solid performer still. 3 out of 5 stars.

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