Monday, July 07, 2008
Taken for Granted
I'm not one for chick flicks--gotta keep my testosterone levels from dipping--but Sally and I watched a DVD of Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, and I was as caught up in it as she was. Maybe for a different reason, though. I wasn't as taken by the romance as I was by the recreation of an era, the 1980s pop music scene. Grant's fictional character was one of the two leads of the band, PoP, which had a hit single, "Pop Goes My Heart," brilliantly recreated in an eye-poppingly accurate music video, which looks straight out of 1984. Not since This Is Spinal Tap has a sound or image been done so well as pastiche.
I believe that Hugh Grant, like another Grant, Cary, is an underappreciated actor. It seems that actors who star in lightweight films like Hugh Grant usually end up in don't get the accolades and credits they deserve. The audience genuinely likes Hugh Grant, he is a charming and witty fellow, and the camera loves him also, but the folks who vote for Academy Awards just must not see what he does as acting.
Music and Lyrics might have come about because of the success of the real-life band, Wham! featuring George Michael. Michael went off into solo stardom, but what happened to his co-Whammer? Do you know that guy's name? I don't, and that's somewhat Hugh Grant's problem in this film. How does the "other guy", the one who didn't become a star, do after his initial success?
While Grant is doing his droll, charming, witty dialogue and patented stuttering, Drew Barrymore isn't quite as appealing as his love interest. I'm just not a big fan of Barrymore's, but that's a matter of personal taste. Lots of actors are very popular without having any appeal to me whatsoever.
Grant proved what a charismatic person he is in 1995 when he got caught with a prostitute, went to jail, then went on Jay Leno's show to give his mea culpa. The movie he was in at the time, Nine Months, could not have bought the publicity he brought to it. It was a hit, and Grant was forgiven by the public.
Something I much appreciated about Music and Lyrics is that the actors did their own singing; both Sally and I thought the vocals had to be dubbed by professional singers, but in a documentary included on the DVD we found out the songs were done by the actors. It turns out that Grant actually has a very pleasant singing voice. You can hear it in both these songs from the movie. The first is the "1984" song, "Pop Goes My Heart," and the second is a solo he does at the piano during a concert.
Yes, that's Kristin Johnston, playing Drew Barrymore's sister. Johnston is a big (and I mean that literally) favorite of mine since her "Third Rock From The Sun" days. The whole cast--with the possible exception of Barrymore, just my opinion--was terrific.