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Music & Lyrics

Jumping off the topics of Net Neutrality and Presidential politics for a moment, let’s talk pop culture. With Little Quip closing on 2 years old and Baby Quip on the way, Mrs. Quip and I rarely get out to the movies. Most of our movie consumption takes place via red and white envelopes about 6 months after the big screen release (thus the reason I do occasional DVD reviews, but rarely do a timely movie review).

This weekend was a rare treat, however. We actually arranged an adult outing to a meal and a movie. The flick of choice was Music and Lyrics. I thought I’d take a moment and share some thoughts.

First, let me say Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore have both done this movie about a dozen times before, albeit with other people in the opposite gender’s lead. The movie itself was pretty boilerplate for the romantic comedy genre as well. The story follows the usual storyline, the two meet through odd circumstances, become close, eventually sleep together, Grant does something stupid to make Barrymore go away, and in a big public display of his love, Grant gets the girl back.

Despite the rather formulaic production and casting, though, the movie was really pretty good. Grant gives his usual performance as the oafish, egotistical, but still somehow personable songwriter. He was the Andrew Ridgely portion of a British pop band (appropriately named Pop!) in the 1980s. After an ugly split, he watched his former partner (think George Michael, but without the gay bathroom escapades and drugs) go on to huge success.

Barrymore is a woman who stands in for the woman who normally waters his plants and was the inspiration for a best-selling novel about a woman with limited talent who seduces a college professor. Her former lover, a college professor who never revealed his marriage, is the author of the book.

Both question their worth after having been dumped by their former partners, and are wallowing in a sea of mediocrity.

What is truly refreshing is the sub-plot of the song they’re trying to write and the movie’s depiction of the music industry. As a big fan of music, I have been fairly disappointed for a number of years now that the industry seems to support whatever “it” girl happens to be gracing the pages of Us magazine, and really no longer cares about creating music.

Cases in point, Hayden Panettierre and Paris Hilton. I understand the music industry, through the application of technology, can make a barking dog a Grammy winner, but do we really need to keep proving that? Do we need to keep giving goofy teen actresses and billionaire heiresses record deals simply because they have a high Q rating?

Sorry, I digress…

The movie does a great job of skewering these vacuous pop princesses. The cover of a magazine featuring the movie’s version of the next Shakira – Cora Corman, played by Haley Bennett – features an appropriate quote, “I don’t want to think anymore, I just want to exist.”

That could be the motto of the music industry. Its inclusion in the film sums up the apparent disdain the movie’s writers have for the music biz. The acting is good, the story is predictable, but for me, the open mocking of the music business makes Music and Lyrics worth a look.

Written by Michael Turk