Like I mentioned in the previous post, I had gone to the mall to watch Music & Lyrics. We usually don’t go to the mall on weekends as getting a parking space even in the enormous Mall of the Emirates parking lot on Friday can be a problem. However, it was not yet evening and with nothing else to do, we decided to chance it. The parking lot was quickly filling up, but we did manage to get a space.
I actually like the mall best on a weekend; for a guy who grew up in a city of 20 million people — and now resides in a country that has a population much less than that — have no fear of crowds, and almost miss them. The bustle of people of all shapes, sizes and nationalities is something I love. The noise of thousands of people and hundreds of conversations bubbling up through the four stories of the central atrium is also an experience that is not often found in this city of cars and their horns.
Weaving through the layers of crowd we made it to the far end of the mall with the cinema, and bought tickets a half hour early, giving us some more time to roam around, empty our tanks, and wait in the endless concession stand line for an overpriced and cinema-branded bottle of water (Seriously, I think the reason they show a half hour of trailers before a movie is because the lines at the snack bar take, on average, that long to work through). Despite being the first weekend of release, the screening was moderately full. It wasn’t the biggest screen in the house — that was, no doubt, still playing 300 (which I haven’t seen).
Sitting around waiting for the lights to dim I realised that it had been months since I’d seen anything in this particular theatre. For all of last year every single screening had begun with a Coca-Cola ad featuring Lebanese pop star Nancy Ajram. The ad was mediocre enough the first time, but seeing it dozens of times over the next year had begun to grate on me. I wondered if they still showed it, and at that moment the lights dimmed and up started a Coke ad.
Thankfully they had moved on from Ms. Ajram and replaced her with a mostly computer-generated ad showing the fantastical inner workings of a Coke machine. It’s and international campaign I’d seen on TV before. You’ve probably seen it too, and while I’m generally impressed with the technical aspects of it, the composition of the shots was terrible, so was the editing, and while the design of the fantasy universe was cute it was by no means memorable. I leaned over and said to my brother, “This is both the best and the worst Coke ad I’ve ever seen,” and he couldn’t help but nod in agreement.
The prospect of seeing this ad for the whole of this year — and possible beyond — was not a pleasant one. Nancy, come back!
They showed, among other things, a trailer for a Curtis Hanson movie starring Eric Bana (it’s good to see that despite Troy and Hulk‘s relatively disappointing numbers people still haven’t given up on him), and a short trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End that I had been avoiding on the internet. The trailer seems nice in that it didn’t focus too much on the special effects, and instead was almost entirely dialogue. What little scenery was shown looked disappointingly monotone and fake (a problem I had with the second Pirates film), but who knows, they might be able to pull it off. I wonder how many islands were ruined for this one?
I knew very little about Music & Lyrics going in, other than that it was a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, and that it had something to do with pop music. Really, that’s about all you need to know about a romantic comedy movie. I like Hugh Grant movies. I’m a sucker for Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and especially Love, Actually, so I was pretty much sold on the whole thing to begin with. Still, must be objective, must be objective.
The film is solid, if a little short. It’s funny (poking fun at the 80s might seem easy, but the writers do it in continually interesting ways), it’s romantic, Hugh Grant delivers (as usual), and I’ve finally seen a Drew Barrymore movie I actually, really, like (okay, so Never Been Kissed was not bad either, but let’s not speak of those Charlie’s Angels movies she helped produce). Side characters are relegated to stereotypes for the most part, but they aren’t caricatured as much as one might expect in an American movie: the bumbling, lonely divorcee agent and the giggly fangirl sister aren’t overplayed. The young popstar played by Haley Bennet is sufficiently vapid; I’m just not sure if this is great acting or just the way she is.
I did say that it was a little short, and by that I mean that it doesn’t feel as large or ‘epic’ as Four Weddings or even Notting Hill. In fact as the credits roll we are shown some scenes that — judging by the characters’ costumes — took place during the midsection of the film, which I certainly wouldn’t have minded seeing there.
It’s still a good film and is well worth the watch, so maybe I’m just a Hindi film nut who expects a three hour running time to be par for the course. Also the pop songs in the film are exactly the kind of stuff that you can’t get out of your head — I’ve had the main one (“Pop! Goes My Heart” which in the movie comes complete with cheesy A-Ha-inspired music video) buzzing around in my brain for the past few weeks!
That’s Music & Lyrics in a nutshell: a bit on the light side, but far more memorable than the average pop song.
Excuse me, for now I need to go hunt down the lyrics to “Pop! Goes My Heart”…