Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lazy Movie Weekend: PoP! Goes My Heart

If anyone is looking for something to get me for my birthday this year, I will take a live performance of this song at my office; my birthday is on a Wednesday this year so it needs a little something. I'll completely understand if Hugh Grant is not available but I'm sure a reasonable substitute can be found. June 11 will be here sooner than you think.

The mid-2000s produced a significant amount of underrated films. 2007 was the year of Hot Fuzz, Grindhouse, Waittress, The Nanny Diaries, The Jane Austen Book Club, and The Darjeeling Limited. It was also the year of Juno, Dreamgirls, and No Country for Old Men so I guess it makes sense that a little film like Music and Lyrics would get lost in the shuffle. The film was released in the same month as the Nicholas Cage epic, Ghost Rider. People had more important things to watch I guess.

It's such a delightful movie. Hugh Grant plays a washed up 80s pop singer from a band call PoP!. He makes a career riding on the wave of 80s nostalgia that made up most of the 2000s by playing at high school reunions, state fairs, and the big show, Knott's Berry Farms amusement park. He can't write lyrics but has to write a song for pop princess Cora Corman (think Britney, Christina, and Shakira rolled into one person) called "A Way Back Into Love". Enter Drew Barrymore as the flighty plant waterer/surprise lyricist. Hilarity ensues, feelings are hurt, and love conquers all. And some houseplants may or may not be killed in the process.

PoP! is what every boy band aspired to be in the 1980s - floppy hair (but not Flock of Seagulls hair), a cool wardrobe, and they have an incredibly catchy hit song with adoring fans but they can't make the transition to modern musical tastes and trends. Cora Corman is what most pre-teen girls aspire to be - a hot pop star who gets to dance and wear whatever she wants and understands that music is a business. Alex Fletcher, Grant's character, is caught somewhere in the middle of those two worlds. Unlike Sophie, who sort of bumbles her way into becoming a lyricist, Alex gets that pop stars may seem like they care about the soul of a song but really they care about units sold. The music business is cruel.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing and I think that's why I like this movie so much. With the 80s firmly in mind, let's watch Music and Lyrics.
  1.  "PoP! Goes My Heart" video for the opening credits. I am not even joking about wanting this performed on my birthday. I may or may not know the choreography.
  2. Fun fact: Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore both learned how to sing for this movie.
  3. I don't know about you but I would watch a show called "Battle of the 80s Has-Beens". Eighties pop stars boxing? Yes, please.
  4. How many Frankie Goes to Hollywood jokes do you think they can pack into this movie? I counted three but I may have missed some.
  5. This is my favorite Brad Garrett role of all time. He's just so funny in this movie and it doesn't even seem like he's trying all that hard. I dare say, he steals the movie from Hugh and Drew with his deadpan delivery and mothering. "I can't go" - it's a simple line later in the movie but it makes me laugh so much. 
  6. I will argue that plants make women more comfortable. I am a plant killer so frankly, plants make me anxious.
  7. Pro & con lists - yes please!
  8. "Yeah, it's nice to see a young woman exploring religion." Alex after witnessing the filming of Cora's "Buddha's Delight" video.
  9. Yes, that is Mr. Schuester from Glee
  10. "It's destiny...or not." Cora is so wise.
  11. Sophie figures out better lyrics than the grumpy, misogynistic lyricist hired to help. When Alex asks her to write with him her response is "I just can't she says mysteriously." While I appreciate Sophie's artsy flightiness, it also becomes tired as the movie progresses. 
  12. Kristen Johnston as Sophie's sister Rhonda - actually Kristen and Brad are in a tie for stealing the movie. She's so funny and it makes me miss "3rd Rock from the Sun". I would watch an entire movie about Rhonda and her weight loss empire. "If I get fat there goes my fiscal year."
  13. The reunion! If anyone could guarantee that my next high school reunion would be like this except with a 1997 appropriate musical act, I would go. Every time I watch this scene and Rhonda pushes to the front I say to myself, "She doesn't even go here." (Name that movie.)
  14. Another winning Brad Garrett scene - he does the dance moves off stage, he promotes Knott's Berry Farm, he makes a dad joke. Perfection.
  15. "Love Autopsy" should totally be a song.
  16. Fun fact: As a child, Hugh Grant took piano lessons from Andrew Lloyd Weber's mother.
  17. Sophie: A melody is like seeing someone for the first time. The physical attraction. Sex. Alex: I so get that. Sophie: But then, as you get to know the person, that's the lyrics. Their story. Who they are underneath. It's the combination of the two that makes it magical.
  18. The Sally Michaels book conundrum: the entire scene where Alex and Sophie discuss literature versus popular music is pretty great. I agree with Alex that pop songs make people feel better than most works of literature BUT he's missing the power of stories and characters that can also transport you to out of your normal life. Also, the whole "I'm Sally Michaels" thing is not my favorite plot device but I get it and I guess it works.
  19. Aasif Mandvi! He's the tone deaf doorman. Seems legit.
  20. I love Sophie's face when she realizes she has to sing on the demo of the song. The version she and Alex sing is very sweet.
  21. The dinner scene: there is no way that Gloria and Sophie are the same size. Also, why would Gloria want to wear the clothes Sophie has been wearing for two days? Ewww. Question: do we think Gloria gets her dress back?
  22. I love Sophie's speech to Sloan Cates (what a terribly pretentious name); we all have speeches like that in our minds. And Alex is absolutely correct that Sloan is a jerk (I would call him something worse despite being a lady). Of course, the reality of the situation is that Sophie will never be able to say what she needs to say. Instead it will be the awkward wonder of "I had a pen" and Alex getting into fisticuffs with Sloan.
  23. "Don't hurt his hair!" Brad Garrett for the win (during the fight scene).
  24. I like that Alex describes Sophie as unusual (and it's positive) and that the compliment gives us our second best bit of dialogue: Sophie: That's wonderfully sensitive especially from a man who wears such tight pants. Alex: It forces all the blood to my heart.
  25. Rhonda perfectly sums up how you know you're in love, "I don't know. I think it's when they something extraordinary."
  26. Cora's version of "A Way Back Into Love" is best described by Sophie: "You didn't actually like that orgasm set to the "Gandhi" soundtrack?"
  27. Of course this leads to the big "breakup" that isn't really a breakup but still happens. Alex has a very valid point about Sophie holding the song hostage and giving up - it's definitely her thing. However, she does come through with the perfect last verse for the song.
  28. The Cora concert - I don't know what to say or think about her costumes and the entire event. I can tell you that it was not filmed in Madison Square Gardens (it's actually Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum).
  29. Yes, I too thought that Alex was being an awful jerk when the song was attributed just to him. But then he goes and does something extraordinary. 
  30. Stick around and watch the "PoP! Goes My Heart" video a la Pop Up Video. There are some pretty funny pop facts especially the one about the former lead singer of PoP! having to have hip surgery after doing the band's dance moves.
So there you have it - a little bit of 1987 and 2007 all in one movie. I think Hugh Grant is at his best when he's a little narcissistic and a little washed-up; Alex Fletcher fits that description perfectly. Treat yourself to something fun this weekend (or week if you need a little pick me up) and watch this little gem.

Fun facts
Music and Lyrics poster
Alex and Cora
Sophie and Alex


  1. I love this movie, and no, Gloria never gets her dress back.

  2. In my heart of hearts, I want her to get her dress back. Maybe there could have been a pop-up bubble in the end to tell us what happened to Chris and Gloria.