Film / Music and Lyrics

2007 Romantic Comedy, and Affectionate Parody of 1980s pop music and the stars related to it.

In The '80s, Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) was one of the biggest pop stars in the world, as a singer / song-writer for the hit band Wham 'PoP!'. Unfortunately, the Eighties ended, and so did Alex's career, pretty much; after his bandmate and collaborator betrayed the group by stealing their last songs and recording them solo, Alex's career dried up and he ended up a has-been, eventually finding some niche of contentment and income performing to crowds of his now middle-aged female fans at school reunions and theme parks.

Unfortunately for him, even this last well of employment (and dignity) seems to be drying up; there's new old acts embarking on reunion tours every day, and Alex is losing gigs. Possible salvation - and a return to the Good Old Days - beckons when Cora Corman (Haley Bennett), a Britney-style teenybopper star and fan of his music, commissions him to write a duet to be performed on her next album and concert tour. Unfortunately, Alex only wrote the music, not the lyrics; however, by an astonishing stroke of luck, his attractive-but-scatty plant-waterer, Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), demonstrates an unexpected knack for writing song lyrics...

See if you can't guess how it progresses from there.

Provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: 1980s pop music is treated very affectionately; the absurdities and pretensions of the fashions are spoofed (most effectively in the hilarious music video for 'PoP!''s big hit), but it's always good-natured.
  • Alliterative Name: Cora Corman.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": In the "Pop! Goes My Heart" video à la Duran Duran.
  • Big Sister Instinct: In the concert scene climax, when it looks like Cora and Alex aren't going to give Sophie credit for writing Way Back into Love, Rhonda gets a furious look on her face and cries "written by Alex Fletcher and my sister."
  • Brainless Beauty: Cora is a classic example. She practices Buddhism, but doesn't even really know much about it.
  • Concert Climax: Sort of: Alex and Sophie's reunion takes place off-stage.
  • Concert Kiss: Alex and Sophie
  • Contrived Coincidence: Alex can't write lyrics and needs a lyricist. Sophie, the plant girl, just happens to be a writer and undiscovered lyrical prodigy. Phew, that was lucky.
  • Creator Breakdown: invoked Explored; Alex makes a convincing argument that it's better to channel your personal issues into creative endeavours (and get paid for them) than moping around "being a little bit self-indulgent". The first decent song he manages to write entirely by himself, "Don't Write Me Off", reflects this.
    • Also parodied; it's suggested that "Greg the rhyming psychopath's" dark, grim lyrics are a reflection of this trope.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Alex.
  • Dismotivation: Both Alex and Sophie, in many ways.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Sloan ruining Sophie's self-confidence by using a dark, twisted version of her in his best-seller after his affair with her went south.
    • Sophie refuses to write a final verse for the risque version of "Way Back Into Love". Alex responds with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, culminating in six brutal words: "I'm saying Sloan Cates was right!"
  • Duet Bonding: Between Alex and Sophie. Alex writes the music for the song, Sophie takes care of the lyrics.
  • Glory Days: Subverted — Alex isn't exactly thrilled with his lot, but is more or less resigned to it, never really demonstrates any burning desire to get back where he was, and treats his fans and low-rent gigs sardonically but with real affection. That said, he does fear that at one point, he'll be in such little demand that he'll eventually be stuck "doing Bar Mitzvahs," convincing himself to take the job writing Cora's song.
  • It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars: In-Universe. Alex is perfectly happy turning out schlock for Cora if it means a paycheck.
    ''We're not turning out "Beethoven's Fifth." We're writing the follow-up for a singer whose last big hit was "Welcome To Bootytown!"
  • Jerkass: Sloan. He had an affair with Sophie while engaged to someone else (without telling Sophie) and used her image in his best-seller to portray her as what she wasn't, a talentless gold-digging whore, and even wanted to make a film about it. The "pop-up video" ending reveals that he got exactly what was coming to him when the movie was a massive flop.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Alex, to some extent. He comes across as a jerk at times due to being trapped in the past, living in the shadow of his Glory Days, is impatient and annoyed by Sophie's insecurity and puts her down a few times, but he's still a good man under all that, standing up for her regarding Sloan, even in front of Sloan himself (it results in a scuffle, but still), appreciates Sophie's writing talent and is relatively friendly with Chris. And, of course, he's likable enough in Sophie's eyes that they form a relationship.
  • The Lancer: Alex's role in PoP!
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Sophie suffers a breakdown on finding out that Sloan, her former professor, is making a major motion picture of the book he wrote about their affair. At the end of the film, we find that the movie was mercilessly shot down by critics, completely ruining his career.
  • Lost Love Montage
  • May–December Romance: Alex, who's presumably in his early fifties, winds up with Sophie, a woman who is implied to be just barely pushing thirty.
  • Meaningful Echo: See "You Are Better Than You Think You Are."
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cora is very much this.
  • Muse Abuse: Sophie's a victim of this, courtesy of the English Lit professor who had an affair with her without telling her he was engaged and then, when it went sour, proceeded to write a best-seller painting her as a talentless gold-digging whore.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • PoP! are based on Wham!, and Alex Fletcher is very obviously based on Andrew Ridgeley. (If you don't know who that get the idea.)
    • Cora Corman is likely based on Christina Aguilera. She's described as Britney and Christina put together. Though one could assume that she is a Lady Gaga expy, she was actually first.
  • Noodle Incident: An illegible note changes Sophie's lyrics "a cloud above my bed" to "a clown above my bed." As the correct it, Sophie asks what a clown would be doing in someone's bed, to which Alex's snarks "It wouldn't be the first time." Of course, this could just be Alex being silly.
  • The Noun and the Noun
  • Old Shame: In-universe example: Alex's solo album. Rolling Stone called it "a crass, contrived effort not fit for a dentist's chair". That was apparently the kindest review, and Alex is inclined to agree with them.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: What Sophie's ex-boyfriend accuses her of. In a national best-seller. Ouch.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Sophie has one prepared for Sloan when he unexpectedly shows up at the restaurant where she and Alex are with Chris and Gloria. She tells it to Alex, but cannot bring herself to say it directly to Sloan. Alex does it for her.
    • When Sophie refuses to write a final verse for "Way Back Into Love" after Cora's party, Alex gives her a pretty brutal one. Six words sum it up: "I'm saying Sloan Cates was right!" At least he felt sorry afterwards.
  • Running Gag: Sophie the Plant Killer.
    • The end credits have their own little one with the whole "hip replacement" thing.
  • Sad Times Montage
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: Alex has a habit of doing this.
    • During an argument about why Sophia is so cut up about her ex-writing professor writing a novel which portrays her as a gold-digging hack, Sophie irritably asks how Alex would feel if one of his heroes said that he was a terrible artist, and namechecks Smokey Robinson and Bob Dylan as examples. Alex's response... gets away from him.
    Alex: Well, first of all, I actually know Smokey a little bit and he's far too much a gentleman to ever say anything like that. Dylan... might. Dylan would. In fact, Dylan did.
    • At one point, he refers to Sophie as "Cole Porter in panties," before randomly reminding himself that Cole Porter, who was openly gay, probably did wear panties.
  • Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: "Entering Bootytown".
  • Stylistic Suck: A majority of the in-universe music, but especially Cora's music and even more especially the music video for "Pop Goes My Heart." That said, they are well-written enough to sound like real songs.
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: In-Universe. Alex tells Sophie that he loves pop music because it makes you feel really good really fast. He uses "My Girl" by the Temptations as an example.
  • Three Minutes of Writhing: What Cora tries to turn Alex and Sophie's ballad into, to the point that she looks and sounds as if she's masturbating more than singing. Sophie is less than pleased.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: In the form of a VH1 "Pop-Up Video" segment! Cora had a short marriage, the film of Sloan's book was a disaster, Colin broke his hip during a POP reunion, and Alex and Sophie are still together, working on a new album (and his hip appeared to be fine).
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: As above, Alex isn't really obsessing over the good old days.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Sophie insists that Alex is just as talented a songwriter as his heroes, but Alex doesn't believe her, saying that Bob Dylan and Smokey Robinson are like dinner, but he's "just desert." When he finally musters up the gall to write a song entirely solo, Sophie tells him "That was dinner!"