Given the unpredictable origins of contemporary music, its not difficult to understand why a pop princess would ask her childhood idol to write and record a duet with her.
So Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant), this callow, unflappably good-natured, washed-up 80s rock star whos been reduced to working the nostalgia circuit at high school reunions and amusement parks, faces a dilemma. He hasnt written a song in years, hes never attempted lyrics and his career depends on him coming up with a hit in just a few days.
Knock, knock. At his door appears ditsy Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), there to water his plants, a task many New York apartment dwellers seem unable to manage. Shes an insecure writer on the rebound from a bad relationship with a newly famous novelist (Campbell Scott). After this “meet cute” introduction, they begin to collaborate.
Hugh Grant is flat-out funny, exuding an irresistible playfulness. His timing is impeccable, his expressions priceless. Drew Barrymore is engaging and vulnerable if, occasionally, cloying in her idiosyncrasies. Indeed, their relationship doesnt really take off until he finally gets fed up with her perpetual pity-party. But when theyre bantering, theres a paradoxical kind of liberation for both of them.
Writer/director Marc Lawrence (“Two Weeks Notice”) seems to have a flair for ephemeral romantic comedy, particularly sardonic dialogue, but wastes his supporting players. As Alexs loyal manager, Brad Garrett has too little to do and Kristen Johnson is annoying, besides being too big to be believable as diminutive Drews sister. As the young, Buddhism-obsessed singing sensation Cora Corman (think Britney/Christina/Shakira), newcomer Haley Bennett is sweetly spacey and serene. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Music and Lyrics” is a singin, swingin 7, an indubitably delightful date movie.