Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Music & Lyrics

I was suffering rather a dearth of Christmas presents this year. The three friends who've fairly regularly remembered me for the last few years (and several others who've done so at least occasionally) all seem to have decided that I'm on Santa's 'Naughty' list this year. Sigh.

But my good pal Tony 'The Chairman' took pity on me the other week, when making impulsive pirate DVD purchases in a local bar, and got this film for me as a Christmas present. It was my only one this year - so I wrapped it for myself (Yes, I'm that sad!). And I watched it when I got home from our Christmas Day bar crawl, a little after midnight.

He had praised it rather extravagantly, but.... well, perhaps it was just the fact that I was four-sheets-to-the-wind on White Russians, but I felt that it actually lived up to those inflated expectations. I have something of a weakness for rom-coms; and this is about the best one I've seen in a decade or more. I don't think it quite steps up to the next level of being a great film (like 'When Harry Met Sally', for example, or 'Annie Hall'), but it is a great, great rom-com.

Oh, sure, it's a very thin premise (washed-up '80s pop icon gets a chance to revive his career by penning a new song for the Britneyalike sensation-of-the-moment, has to get help writing the words for it from the kooky-but-brilliant girl who turns up to water his plants one day).... but it works. And it follows the bog-standard formula of boy meets girl/boy charms girl/boy sleeps with girl/boy behaves like a complete arse/boy has to make extravagant gesture to win girl back.... but it works.

It relies very heavily on the charm of its principals - but Hugh Grant (sarcastic-but-vulnerable) and Drew Barrymore (goofy-ditsy-vulnerable) are two of the most irresistibly charming actors around today, and they have great chemistry together here. But as well as this, there's some great satire on pop culture (particularly the VH1 music TV channel - the end credits use a nice pastiche of the 'Pop-Up Video' series), including several effective parodies of '80s and '00s pop songs. The film begins with the video for Grant's biggest hit (circa 1989), a soppy, boppy Wham!-style slab of cheese which - exactly like Wham! - irritates the hell out of you at first..... but lodges irrevocably in your brain the second time you hear it. And the 'Britney' songs are just jaw-droppingly tasteless - an excellent piss-take.

The script in general is very, very sharp. There's not much elaboration of character, but it's chock-full of great lines - Hugh must have loved this script: he hardly gets to open his mouth without saying something witty.

"I have amazing insight. I'd use it on myself, but I don't have any problems."

"Did anyone see 'Battle of the 80s Has-Beens' last night? That Debbie Gibson - she can take a punch, huh?"



moonrat said...

i LOVE this movie (i have no taste whatsoever, but that doesn't mean this movie isn't THE BOMB)

also, weird trivia, this girl who played orphan annie the production of Annie i was in when i was 7 years old has a role in MUSIC AND LYRICS. her name is brooke tansley and she was one of the record label people. good for her. she's in an upcoming american remake of the korean film MY SASSY GIRL (the korean one rocked--i saw it in theaters when i was living in taiwan, but apparently netflix doesnt deem it worthy of being carried to an american market). but she also came over and gave me a hug when i fell of a piece of scenery and cut my head back in 19XX when we were rehearsing for Annie. my brush with stardom.

Froog said...

Gosh, I'll have to watch it again now, just to watch out for your old classmate.

I'm figuring this would have been about the time that 'Alex Fletcher' was BIG???

One of my American friends was apparently a homestay student exchange buddy of the lovely Olivia Williams. I was hoping for an introduction at the wedding, but, you know, Olivia's too busy with her career these days, I guess....