"Music and Lyrics" begins with an elaborate parody of '80s-period new-wave music videos think A-ha, Wham U.K. and Naked Eyes. But, as amusing as that is initially, the joke goes on far too long.
The second gag in the film is considerably less ambitious and falls flat.
Fortunately, this hit-and-miss romantic comedy does eventually find a few jokes that actually work, as it keeps plugging away.
And the film wisely focuses on Hugh Grant, who makes several of these bits funnier than they would otherwise be.
What's more, Grant manages to convince us of at least the possibility of an on-screen romance with Drew Barrymore, a pairing that's unlikely at best.
Grant stars as Alex Fletcher, a once-famous musician who's now touring amusement parks and state fairs as a retro novelty act, but he's given a chance for a comeback when a huge pop star, Cora Corman (Haley Bennett), asks him to write her new single.
While his music composition skills haven't atrophied, his lyric-writing skills are in question, and he has just days to come up with a hit. So, in desperation, he turns to Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore) for help.
Sophie, who waters his plants, comes up with a couple of verses that just might work. And of course, sparks begin to fly between the two.
This is familiar territory for Grant, who's been in so many romantic comedies that he's nearing the oversaturation point. Still, this kind of quip-filled, charming role fits him even if the singing and dancing aspects of his performance are a bit of a stretch.
As for Barrymore, she really struggles to find her character for much of the film's first half, and her performance feels a little forced. So it's fortunate that some of the supporting performers here can pick up the slack particularly Brad Garrett, who plays Alex's hardworking manager, and Kristen Johnston, who's a hoot as Sophie's star-struck older sister.
"Music and Lyrics" is rated PG-13 for some suggestive sexual material (including references and innuendo), brief implied sex and other sexual contact, and brief drug content (references to drug abuse). Running time: 104 minutes.