In his handling of Music and Lyrics, director- writer Marc Lawrence “makes everything about three times more obvious than it needs to be,” says Variety critic Todd McCarthy. And yet “there’s energy” in this Hugh Grant-Drew Barrymore romance that Warner Bros. will open on 2.14, “and the actors feed on it.

“Grant carries the day as the fortysomething lad still living off his youth and just about getting away with it; from his first moment onscreen, he persuades you he’s the only possible actor for this tailor-made role. No matter Grant’s effervescence, newcomer Haley Bennett nearly steals every scene she’s in as the Britney/Christina/Madonna figure. Very cute and a hot little dancer, the singer-thesp presents an implacable figure of absolute privilege and authority while sneakily sending up the whole celebrity package in a wonderfully sly turn.

“Which leaves Barrymore something of the odd woman out. Granted her Sophie starts out just wanting to blend into the wallpaper, but the star still comes off as rather more drab than necessary, or at least seems so in light of the charisma popping from the pores of those around her. Surrounded by an ex-star, a diva, a brilliant former boyfriend and a livin’-large sister, it’s hard for a normal neurotic to get a word in edgewise.”