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In The Eighties, 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 and 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...
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.
- 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: 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.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Don't Write Me Off
- Deadpan Snarker: Alex.
- Dismotivation: Both Alex and Sophie, in many ways.
- Duet Bonding
- Face of the Band: Alex is an illustration of what happens to the person on the other side of this trope.
- 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.
- Hey, It's That Guy!!: Mr Shue is Cora's manager, in a film where Drew Barrymore sings, Mr Shue neither sings nor dances.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: watching the movie now, knowing about Lady Gaga, most of Cora's scenes become this.
- 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
- 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 bestseller painting her as a talentless gold-digging whore.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Alex Fletcher is very obviously based on Andrew Ridgeley. (If you don't know who that is...you get the idea.)
- The Noun and the Noun
- Old Shame: 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 bestseller. Ouch.
- Sad Times Montage
- Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks "Entering Bootytown"
- Where Are They Now? Epilogue: In the form of a VH1 "Pop-Up Video" segment!
- White Dwarf Starlet: As above, Alex isn't really obsessing over the good old days.