Just spent a couple hours at the movies tonight - watching the new movie "Music and Lyrics" with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. Funny thing, I have been watching the filming of this movie for the past year or so - since they filmed most of the exteriors and lobby scenes near my apartment in NYC. I even saw their efforts about three weeks ago where they made some minor edits for the film with Grant coming in and out of a building near the apartment he supposedly lives at (actually came out of a record store of some sort).
This week, I got an invite to view a rough cut of the movie for minor changes (if the feedback is appropriate). Interestingly, I was also picked (okay, so a woman suggested I join the groups since I was laughing at all the right parts) and got a chance to be in the focus group in the last showing, which gave me a chance to participate in giving feedback to the director and other such people.
For the movie - let me say that it is not a typical "rom-com" - I would call it a "com-rom" which is a bit more on the comedy side than on the romantic side. Oh yes, there is romance. But it is the whipped cream on top of the ice cream "comedy" which is at the heart of this film. It is the humor is what gets you through the movie to its amusing endings.
Quick and Dirty: Pretty Good
The challenge they have right now is that the movie (in its current state) has a number of threads that need to be trimmed and cleaned up. For me the beginning of the movie was kind of quirky and slow, but once you got into the story - and the music began to flow, a much better movie existed. Think of it as a combination of what would happen if Julie from "The Wedding Singer" would be like if she had not aged, but retained all of the knowledge of the past 20 years and could be a writer/lyricist. Now, add an "Adam Ant" character living on the Upper West Side (which many older artists seem to live in these anonymous buildings) who is benefiting from a revitalization of the 80s music scene (who knew that the 80s would be considered "classic"?). This is the start of the story of "Music and Lyrics".
To give you more would give too much away - but, suffice it to say that it is more funny than romantic - which means guys, you will actually like the movie - if they clean up a couple of the pieces that are missing (e.g. "jerk" of an ex-boyfriend which should have been cut, but is required for the next major scene, missing lead from POP who seems to have been somewhere else, but not in this movie).
In the focus group - most of the group were women (22 people, with 7 guys). All of us loved the movie, and a third would definitely recommend it (the rest of us would "probably recommend" it, though the whole of us would "definitely recommend it to someone"). The challenge is that recommending a self-professed "rom-com" would not sell well - since, "Sleepless in Seattle" and "When Harry Met Sally" were a much more understandable and direct thread on the rom-com formula. This is different - sort of a humor hodge (especially sarky British humor) with a podge of romance and integrity and nostalgia to the 80s. If you are 30+ and can remember some of the acts from the 80s, and appreciate a Hugh Grant/British sort-of-sarcasm, this is a movie you should see.
They do hit the high points in the trailer and even include stuff they left on the cutting room floor (e.g. "We broke up in 1992, which means I am a 90s has-been" and the scene where Hugh is cleaning Drew's teeth in the bathroom). They have some minor edits to do before the Valentines Day release - but I think it will turn out well.
Check out some of the more amusing efforts from Brad Garrett, Kristen Johnston, and Jason Antoon. I felt for Haley Bennett who plays Cora Corman (an amalgam of Britney, Christina and Shakira) who I think was in my showing (I believe I briefly met her when going into the theater) and of her scenes; only two really shows her strengths (in the recording studio when she sings with her band as well as her duet with Grant). If Samantha Zweben actually lives on the UWS, then please give me a call when you can...
To the team behind this film: best of luck. Looking forward to see the weekend grosses.