“Lyrics are important. They’re just not as important as melody.”
– Alex Fletcher
Leanna here to help explain why we picked this movie. It’s not even my Birthday Super Munch, but since this whole series was my idea (inspired by an episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour which I can no longer find), the boys trusted me with our decision to watch Music and Lyrics over Josie and the Pussycats. None of us had seen the latter, and I at least had what I thought (oooh foreshadowing) were fond memories of Music and Lyrics including catchy songs (I actually purchased “Pop! Goes My Heart” on iTunes back when I first heard it) and rom-com staple Hugh Grant being his usual awkward charming self. Was this the right decision? Let’s find out…
Music and Lyrics features three main songs, so all of our dishes pay an homage to one of them. The first song is sung by Cora (played by Haley Bennet), a rising young pop star who, if the movie is smart enough, is playing a parody of the many young female artists who appropriate other cultures in their costumes, music videos, and music (but maybe we’re giving Music and Lyrics too much credit). That song is “Buddha’s Delight,” which features backup dancers dressed as monks, a giant golden Buddha in the background, and Cora, clad in a bikini made of what I think are banana leaves, singing such delightful lyrics as:
Each time you put your lips to mine, it’s like a taste of Buddha’s delight
I see the gates of paradise, you’re a taste of Buddha’s delight
Tell me all your fantasies tonight, and I will make them happen
‘Cause I’m not satisfied if I don’t get my Buddha’s delight
Let’s just get a quick “Ay yai yai” *pulls at collar motion* before moving on.
So, it was important that we actually try to learn something about the dish (the dish in Mandarin is called luo han zhai) so as to not just follow in the missteps the film makes. We followed a recipe from the wonderful The Woks of Life. To do our best to stay true to the traditional style of the dish, we went to Uwajimaya to buy the appropriate ingredients called for and in the process learned more about many of the ingredients that aren’t typically used in western cuisine. The Buddha’s Delight we cooked used Black Fungus, Dried Lily Flowers, Dried Bean Threads, Mung Bean Noodles and red fermented bean curd as called for in the recipe, and it just all comes together in a wonderful smelling and tasting dish that is perfect over a bed of rice.
For dessert, we wanted to make a dish that celebrated two distinct and different forms coming together as one. This dish was inspired by “Way Back into Love,” the song that Sophie (Drew Barrymore) and Alex (Hugh Grant) write together to win Alex a duet with Cora and a way back into fame. We made stracciatella gelato but turned it into an affogato with a shot of espresso poured over the top. It was delicious, and we honestly have more faith in the gelato and espresso’s love story standing the test of time than Alex and Sophie.
The movie starts off with a music video for the hit that made Alex famous: “Pop! Goes My Heart.” Also, the band he was in was named Pop! So, naturally, we went all in on all things that pop. We made this Pop Rocks cocktail (which, serendipitously enough, is a candy that used to be quite ubiquitous and now nobody ever thinks about much like Alex and his career) with tequila, prosecco, pineapple juice, lime juice, and we swapped the blue curaçao for orange to keep the drink in the distinct color scheme of the music video for “Pop! Goes My Heart.” We had mixed feelings about the Pop-Rocks-crusted rim, but we also had mixed feelings about Alex, so I guess that’s appropriate.
The following rules apply to all movies in the A Parody is Born lineup:
Drink for every new song.
Drink when they turn it up to eleven (at your discretion, and this can happen more than once).
Drink when music brings people together.
Music and Lyrics is in the unenviable position of being the first A Parody is Born movie we’re reviewing after having seen A Star is Born (2018). There are precious few movies in the “movies-about-musicians-featuring-original-songs-but-not-technically-a-musical” genre that could compare favorably to A Star is Born(2018), and Music and Lyrics is decidedly not one of those. What makes it even worse is that quite a few similarities could be drawn between the two. (Spoilers ahead for Music and Lyrics and A Star is Born.)
In both movies, we have a male singer/songwriter who has experienced an incredible amount of fame in his life and is trying to prove himself again. This man meets a woman, who is talented at songwriting but hasn’t had a breakout moment yet, and the two inspire each other to make music together. Once the two plots start to diverge, Music and Lyrics flaws start to show.
While Ally, from A Star is Born (2018), is able to have her breakout moment and go on to outshine her male counterpart when he starts to withdraw support, Music and Lyrics doesn’t give Sophie a similar chance. Her success or failure, and even her sense of self-worth, is totally dependent on the men in her life. There’s a bad subplot where Sophie’s ex publishes an insulting book about her, and when she attempts to confront him, she can’t speak up and relies on her new man to defend her. These two films have a very different idea of what female empowerment looks like. In fact, one doesn’t have any idea what it looks like at all.
We have to compare the music as well. Both had a variety of decent songs which fit well with the theme of the movie, and at least one or two bangers. To be totally fair to Music and Lyrics, we all had “Pop! Goes My Heart” stuck in our heads for days after watching the movie, for better or for worse. The difference between the music in both movies is that Music and Lyrics relies on humor and visual gags to prop their songs up because they aren’t great on their own. A Star is Born (2018)’s soundtrack is legitimately good and holds up as an album (But the dialogue snippets have got to go). As far as bangers go, we’ve had “The Shallow” stuck in our heads for months.
Some may say it’s too early to call it, but we believe that one of these two films is going to stand the test of time, and the other is doomed to be forgotten. And it is best that Music and Lyrics remains forgotten; if anyone were to make the same mistake we did of digging Music and Lyrics out from the deepest realms of the iTunes movie database, they’d be reminded of the worst parts of the 2000s. Don’t go searching for Music and Lyrics. Do yourself a favor and watch A Star is Born (2018) instead.
André: Neither gold nor silver. With the exception of the occasional funny parody song, I thought Music and Lyrics was a total snoozefest. It’s one of the many forgettable romcoms from the late 00’s, in that it feels very predictable and uninspired. If I were you, I would just watch the YouTube video for “Pop! Goes My Heart” and pass on the rest of the movie.
Leanna: File this under films that I’m embarrassed I asked people to watch. I still think “Pop! Goes My Heart” is a bop and I will probably listen to it again but I will never, ever watch this film again. The more we go back and revisit movies I remember enjoying when I was younger, the more astonished I am by all the toxic relationships and abuse towards women I experienced in media when I was growing up. And nobody ever talked to me about it! I can’t help but wonder how it influenced my approach to love and relationships as an adult. Turns out all our faves are problematic (not that this was ever a fave), and Music and Lyrics is no different.
Ben: 30%. This is… not a great film. But that doesn’t take away from the great time I have watching romcoms with the Munch group. The movie itself is problematic in multiple ways that, honestly, aren’t worth going into because they trot out the same tropes a lot of early ’00s romcoms seems to do and pairs up the woman with someone who is truly not worthy of her and is a touch misogynistic. The rest of the film is standard at best and unfunny at its worst. Also, frankly, I don’t find Hugh Grant thaaaat attractive (save for in Paddington 2, but who isn’t attractive in that film) which honestly doesn’t help this film.