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Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) is a washed-up former pop star who is attempting to revive his dwindling career by hitching his name to the rising star of Cora Corman (Haley Bennett), a young megastar who has asked him to write a song titled "Way Back Into Love." Alex is reluctant to compose again after two decades, but his caring but professional manager tells him that his career is doomed if he doesn't. During an unsuccessful attempt to compose the song in collaboration with a "very hip, very edgy" lyricist, Alex discovers that the woman who is temporarily watering his plants, Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), has a gift for writing lyrics. Sophie, a former creative writing student reeling from a disastrous romance with her former English professor Sloan Cates (Campbell Scott) who "forgot" to mention he had a fiancée, initially refuses. Alex cajoles her into helping him by using a few quickly-chosen phrases she has given him as the basis for a song. Over the next few days, they grow closer while writing the words and music together, much to the delight of Sophie's older sister Rhonda (Kristen Johnston), a huge fan of Alex.