Last Tuesday afternoon, as I was trying to slip out four hours early, the director of our division, Herr Prof. Dr. Kleimann, ambushed me in the hallway.
“Herr Prof. von Korncrake,” he asked, “I understand from your assistants that you are an afficionado of the comedic cinema?”
“Yes, Herr Direktor,” I said, forcing a cheery smile, “I have, on occasion, been known to enjoy a good laugh.”
“Wunderbar! Frau Kleimann and I saw the most delightful movie the other evening,” he said in that nauseatingly familiar manner he adopts with his underlings, “It was called Music und Lyrics. You should see it, Herr Professor, I think you would enjoy it.”
Well, dear readers, what could I do?
I had anticipated spending a pleasant afternoon at my favorite Bierstube, the Herrenhausen, drinking bock and playing skittle bowls with unemployed chemical workers, but now, I was caught like a rat in a trap. If the Direktor and his swinish hausfrau recommend a movie one is obliged to see it.
And so it was with a heavy heart that I trudged down to the KinoPlex to see a matinee of Music and Lyrics, featuring Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant.
It is not that I dislike romance on principle, indeed, I, myself, had been in love, so very long ago, when I was young and frolicksome.
We were teenagers together at the gymnasium. Her name was Elsa and she was blonde, coltish, beautiful, and freckled.
Unfortunately, she was also a prodigious swimmer. The last I saw of her was on television from Munich in 1972, in the final of the 100m breaststroke. She was the one with the bulging muscles and the mustache.
Thus, I understand love and its discontents.
What I do not understand, however, is the enduring appeal of Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. Have we not seen every possible version of the stammering, self-absorbed, English twit, and every variation of the loveably klutzy, lisping Kewpie doll? Do we really need to see them together?
Not for an instant did I believe that the central characters were capable of falling in love, so wrong was the casting, so miniscule the “chemistry”.
The best that can be said for Music and Lyrics is that the opening credit sequence, an ersatz music video, is hilarious. Otherwise, the movie is just well-written, but mostly pedestrian fare with some catchy pop music.
The next morning, Herr Direktor Kleimann caught me at the door.
“Guten Morgen, Herr Professor von Korncrake,” he said, the sweat on his jowls glistening like the morning dew, “did you go to the cinema yesterday?”
“Oh yes, Herr Professor Kleimann, and the movie was charming, a true gem. You and your wife have such marvelous taste in cinema.”
Toady today, prosper tomorrow.