“Music and Lyrics,” review by Susan Granger

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Given the unpredictable origins of contemporary music, it’s not difficult to understand why a pop princess would ask her childhood idol to write and record a duet with her.

So Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant), this callow, unflappably good-natured, washed-up ‘80s rock star who’s been reduced to working the nostalgia circuit at high school reunions and amusement parks, faces a dilemma. He hasn’t written a song in years, he’s never attempted lyrics and his career depends on him coming up with a hit in just a few days.

Knock, knock. At his door appears ditsy Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), there to water his plants, a task many New York apartment dwellers seem unable to manage. She’s an insecure writer on the rebound from a bad relationship with a newly famous novelist (Campbell Scott). After this “meet cute” introduction, they begin to collaborate.

Hugh Grant is flat-out funny, exuding an irresistible playfulness. His timing is impeccable, his expressions priceless. Drew Barrymore is engaging and vulnerable – if, occasionally, cloying in her idiosyncrasies. Indeed, their relationship doesn’t really take off until he finally gets fed up with her perpetual pity-party. But when they’re bantering, there’s a paradoxical kind of liberation for both of them.

Writer/director Marc Lawrence (“Two Weeks Notice”) seems to have a flair for ephemeral romantic comedy, particularly sardonic dialogue, but wastes his supporting players. As Alex’s loyal manager, Brad Garrett has too little to do and Kristen Johnson is annoying, besides being too big to be believable as diminutive Drew’s sister. As the young, Buddhism-obsessed singing sensation Cora Corman (think Britney/Christina/Shakira), newcomer Haley Bennett is sweetly spacey and serene. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Music and Lyrics” is a singin,’ swingin’ 7, an indubitably delightful date movie.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.