Early scholarship (if any) of Hugh Grant's career would describe two phases. First came the romantic fumbler, as seen in Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill. Then came the misanthropic cad, like in the Bridget Jones movies and About a Boy. Recently I've noticed a third phase: the British parodist. He took on Tony Blair in Love Actually and Simon Cowell in American Dreamz. Now, in Music and Lyrics, he's vintage George Michael.
Well, George Michael if Wham! broke up and Andrew Ridgeley became the famous solo artist instead. I decided not to post a picture of Grant's 1980s look because the opening credits -- a music video of his band PoP's big hit -- are too good to spoil. It's a hysterical beginning to a much better movie than I expected.
Alex Fletcher (Grant) works the theme park and state fair circuit performing PoP's hip-swaying music for lascivious 30-something women. (Of special note is his love ballad eerily reminiscent of "Careless Whisper.") He gets a career break when Cora Corman (Haley Bennett), a faux-Buddhist Shakira type, enlists him to write her next hit. He hires Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), a wallflower with a knack for rhymes, to bail him out of his writer's block.
For a film like this, plot is incidental, so I'd rather extend praise to the terrific original pop songs by writer/director Marc Lawrence and Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger. Their tunes were funny and fitting. (Schlesinger once wrote the title song in That Thing You Do! and was nominated for a Best Song Oscar. I'd appreciate seeing him crash that boring category again.)