(On TV, May 2017) Innocuous but likable, Music and Lyrics manages to exceed the familiar average for romantic comedies, largely based on the strengths of its lead actors and the interesting backdrop in which the familiar rom-com situations occur. Hugh Grant stars as a washed-up popstar eking a living through royalties and small concerts in dismal places. When he’s asked to pen a song for a young and impulsive signer (Haley Bennett, playing a character that now seems like a slightly demented blend of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry), he comes to rely on an eccentric woman (Drew Barrymore, less bland than usual) to break through his creative block. The music-industry backdrop adds a lot to the film, especially in its high-comedy moments. Meanwhile, Grant and Barrymore work effectively together despite the fifteen-year age difference. Given those assets, it’s somewhat disappointing that the film can’t do anything else beyond relying on stock rom-com situations and false conflicts to juice up the drama. Even a mildly intriguing subplot about the female lead being the inspiration for a popular fictional antagonist eventually peters out to nothing much. Still, the film can coast a long time on its lead and backdrop, which helps make Music and Lyrics slightly more interesting than most of the other rom-com of the time. Give it a shot if you’re in that kind of mood.