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Music and LyricsMusic and Lyrics on DVD

This film was a really pleasant surprise. It's a funny romantic comedy that's as schmaltzy as can be, but which works in spite of that and turns out to be a hugely enjoyable time in the home theater.

Hugh Grant stars with Drew Barrymore, and they work extremely well together. He's Alex Fletcher, a washed up pop star from the 1980's now relegated to performing at amusement parks – though his fans still love him. She's Sophie Fisher, an off the wall chick filling in for his plant waterer.

Out of the blue, and just in time to help revive his moribund career, Fletcher gets a chance to write a song for one of the hottest girl singers around (played by Haley Bennett), but he only composes the music: his most famous attempt at being a lyricist was on his solo album that now sits in bargain bins. He needs someone to craft the words.

Enter Sophie, who just happens to have a gift for lyrics. But she's a reluctant wannabe writer because earlier in her life she got dumped on by a respected mentor. Alex convinces her to work with him and they do come up with a catchy new song the artist really likes – then she changes the arrangement to make it a pale, pop synth travesty of its warm and feel good origin.

Sophie can't take that, and eventually walks. Or so we think. In the process, she throws aside the love that was budding between the two collaborators.

Will she return, to help Alex and to finally end up in his arms as they both walk off into the sunset? Well of course she will, otherwise this movie would have had a really unsatisfying ending and we'd end up trashing it here.

But we won't. While predictable, the movie works and we found ourselves laughing out loud on several occasions, which is the exception rather than the rule with most of today's comedies.

Grant and Barrymore have terrific chemistry. They're both good actors and while Grant seems to be replaying his famous movie star persona, there's depth here – and he really gets to stretch his legs as the musical has been, in this case doing his own vocals and even learning some piano to help push the illusion.

Barrymore also does her own singing, but that's pretty inconsequential to the rest of her performance. She comes across as extremely likeable and her smile lights up the screen so much you may want to turn down your TV's contrast.

Our copy of Music and Lyrics was the widescreen version, 16x9 TV compatible, and the picture quality is very good, sharp and colorful. Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and it's also very good, though we wish Warners would offer dts tracks more often (it seems quite rare with them), especially for sound tracks in which music is as important as in Music and Lyrics.

Extras include some deleted scenes and a gag reel, and there's a short but interesting "making of" feature that's worth a look. And you also get the music video they use over the opening credits, a wonderful homage to the pop groups of the 1980's and their videos.

Music and Lyrics, from Warner Home Entertainment
104 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1, 16x9 TV compatible)/Pan&Scan sold separately; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
Starring Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Brad Garrett, Kristen Johnston and Campbell Scott
Produced by Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer,
Written and directed by Marc Lawrence

Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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