Music & Lyrics

Alex Fletcher (Grant) is a former ’80s pop icon thanks to his world-conquering band Pop — think Wham meets Duran Duran. But, 20 years on, Alex’s fellow lead singer is now a megastar while Alex can rate his fame by the copy of his solo album still gathering dust in a local New York record store. Alex, basically, hasn’t ended up where he expected to be. But he’s not bitter. He’s just foppishly charming and self-deprecating. Like you didn’t see that coming...

Hence, instead of the limos, parties etc, Alex ekes out a living on the nostalgia circuit, thanks to his dependable manager Chris (Everybody Loves Raymond’s Garrett), who gets him regular gigs wiggling his still relatively-pert behind at class reunions, county fairs and the like. Then hope arrives in the shapely form of Cora Corman (Haley Bennet), a Britney / Christina / Shakira hybrid looking for a final song for her album. She was a big Pop fan and wants Alex to pen the track.

Just the one catch though. While Cora’s decided on a title — Way Back To Love — Alex hasn’t written a song in several years. If anything is to happen, Alex needs a muse, a lyricist and his plants tended in the very near future. Cue Sophie (Barrymore), plant care lady, all round charmingly wacky eccentric, ‘comedy’ hypochondriac and, wouldn’t you know it, frustrated writer. She turns up at Alex’s flat expecting to polish a few leaves and ends up co-writing the song. And slowly falling for Alex. Like you didn’t see that coming...

Music & Lyrics teams Hugh Grant up again with Two Weeks Notice director Lawrence. And it’s business as usual with another rom com about two unlikely people pairing up. It’s the sort of movie that Grant can sleepwalk through and, indeed, there are times where that seems to be the case. Yes, it’s warm and witty enough to keep the masses happy, the leads — Grant plus Barrymore giving it Wedding Singer levels of charm despite the tedious clichés of her character — are appealing, the support work from Garrett and, particularly, Johnston as Sophie’s Pop-obsessed sister, is first rate and, as the inevitable happy ending lumbers into view, Lawrence and, particularly, Fountains of Wayne frontman and songwriter Adam Schlesinger press the buttons well enough to ensure a few extra Kleenex sales. It’s just, for all its plus points and efficiency, the whole package is just a teensy bit boring.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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