Media Maven’s Movie Reviews

Media Maven’s Movie Reviews

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Music and Lyrics
The movie “Music and Lyrics” makes a delightful composition. Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore star in this charming story of an 80’s pop rock star (Grant) and his unlikely muse, Drew Barrymore.

Grant plays a talented musician who can’t afford to rest on his laurels of past stardom yet it is past success that keeps him living comfortably in New York. He’s not so much a “has been” as a very popular “still been” performing his hits from the eighties at reunions, county fairs and amusement parks.

Through a quirk of fate, Alex Fletcher (Grant) has an opportunity to revitalize his career if he can write a song – complete with music and lyrics – in three days. His strength has always been writing melodies. The lyrics were his downfall. Barrymore as Sophie Fisher is a temporary employee hired to water Fletcher’s plants who ends up making a permanent mark on his career.

Barrymore delivers what she does best and that is to play a mild, nurturing, unpretentious woman seeking true happiness. We meet her character as a recent castaway from a failed relationship. Mindlessly watering plants in Fletcher’s apartment as he is working with a professional lyricist, she hums the melody and completes two stanzas of lyrics. An unlikely collaboration ensues.

The amiable supporting cast makes for a fun movie. Kristen Johnson plays Drew’s older sister who transforms herself from a tired, irritable housewife to an energized knockout in minutes as she accompanies her little sister to see Alex perform. Brad Garrett as Alex’s manager plays an affable friend and confidante.

The story line is familiar. This film has a feel good component that works because of the likeability of its two main characters. Barrymore doesn’t look like a glam starlet, any more than Grant looks like a teen idol. Perhaps what is so appealing about this movie is Grant’s willingness to show his age and never once apologize for it. He makes the most of his swiveling hips and his swooning fans. The cheesy rock video from the heyday of Grant’s fictitious eighties band is hysterical and it is worth going to this movie to see that alone. If you do go, stay for the credits. Music and Lyrics is a fine tune!

The Heart of the Game
“The Heart of the Game” is a movie about a Seattle Girls High School basketball team. It is a documentary that chronicles six seasons of the Roosevelt Roughriders’ history as a mediocre team propelling itself to becoming a state finals sports phenomenon.

At the heart of this game is the story of a mild mannered Superhero, Bill Ressler, who by day is a tax professor at the University of Washington. By night, he transforms into the same mild mannered human being who has no real offensive strategy and limited coaching credentials. Bill Ressler manages to whip these girls into ferocious, disciplined athletes.

Ressler uses unorthodox methods of strength training, guided imagery and the creation if the Inner Circle (a sacred circle void of parents and adults to allow teammates to air and negotiate frustrations, and commiserate). In the process, he convinces these women they are a calculating pack of alpha female wolves who begin every game in the huddle with a war cry of “draw blood!” and a resounding cry from Coach Ressler to remind the girls to “have fun!”

Sounds charming? It is and more. The director, Ward Serrill, does a superb job of giving the audience the feel of a team identity. He also takes the film a step further by accentuating a few of the girls’ stories concerning some of life’s ugly realities; child abuse, teen pregnancy, class distinction and gender discrimination.

One need not be a sports fan or knowledgeable about point guards and fouls to be keep up with this movie. The story has so much heart in showing issues of adolescence, doubt, acceptance and facing adversity while rising to become a better person because of its challenges.

This movie surpasses any feel-good commercial films in its ability to engage the audience in not only being a spectator of the Seattle Roosevelt High School Girls Basketball team but becoming a cheerleader for them as well.

SCORE!

For Your Consideration
“For Your Consideration” is Christopher Guest’s latest production and collaboration with Eugene Levy. Both as writers and actors, these two men showcase their talent in this comedy. Christopher Guest departs from the film venue of “mockumentary.” Yet the movie has the familiar mark of Guest combining lunacy with reality and coming up with one cerebral comedy.

Once again the talented cast of myrmidons from previous Guest films gather together to spoof Hollywood and all the hoopla that surrounds the Oscar Awards. Four actors filming a movie set in the South in the 1940s are all vying for an Oscar nomination after hearing that lead actress, Marilyn Hack, played by Catherine O’Hara, has been favored as an Oscar contender.

The film, Home For Purim is a hokey pretext to introduce these self-absorbed actors. It also serves to introduce us to the rest of the ensemble cast who so naturally caricatures all the beautiful “it people” who sell a Hollywood movie.

It is fun to pick out the ingenious veterans of this film. Jane Lynch as a TV “Hollywood Now” anchor gives an understated performance that balances the over the top antics of Now co anchor Fred Willard. A testament to the chameleon talent of these actors speaks for itself as Jennifer Cooleridge conspicuously plays a clueless blonde with power. Sporting a cropped haircut Larry Miller, as Syd Finkelman plays a studio exec whose job it is to convince the movie’s production company to tone down this epic film’s “Jewishness.”

In the span of this film Catherine O’Hara goes from mature film actress to playing an aging, Jewish, dying matriarch on film and then revealing her hip Hollywood botoxed self while promoting the film on all of the talk show circuits; only to be seen the day after the Academy Awards as a drunken disheartened Oscar less actress who later turns Acting Maven using her superior “acting chops” to enlighten younger, hopeful underlings.

Harry Shearer is the superannuated actor who hopes Home For Purim will revitalize his meager film career and save him from being the pitch wiener (ahem, pitch man) for a national hot dog chain. Ed Begley Jr. convinces us he’s a heterosexual happily married Hollywood gay make up artist; as does Parker Posey present herself as a marginal comedienne trying to crossover into films.

Anybody who is a fan of any of these actors will enjoy this movie. If all this sounds crazy enough to be plausible, then this farcical film is certainly for your consideration.

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