There aren't many great films about screenwriters, and this doesn't add to the list, but it passes the time well enough if you like Hugh Grant - even if for most of the time I kept hoping he'd turn into his character from Bridget Jones' Diary. Daniel Cleaver would surely have had more fun than Grant here - they kind of go there, with him boozing a little bit and sleeping with one student (the very attractive Bella Heathcoate) and insulting Alison Janney... but far too often the film errs on the side of "nice".
Supporting bits which should have been gold aren't - Chris Elliot seems just sad as a fellow academic; JK Simmons always looks as though he's going to say something funny as the Dean but we never get there; I think some of the students were meant to be funnier than they are - the gothic-ish girl, the creepy Star Wars loving guy; there's not even any decent satire of Hollywood types.
I did love the gossipy Jewish girl, she was fun, and the small town atmosphere is sweet (though probably would have been better had the film been more sticks-ville). Marisa Tomei is sweet as the single mother student, although the film gyps us out of a big love scene between her and Grant. Indeed, it's remarkable how many moments the film skips - there's no reunion with his son, no big finale, no great tension, we never meet JK Simmons' much talked about daughters.
The movie is also surprisingly harsh to women - whether it's Janney's bitter Jane Austen-loving antagonist, Simmons' daughters and wife who boss him around, manipulative younger female students, the Hollywood requests for a kick-ass female sidekick (as if that's a bad thing), the fact that the one student Grant really champions is a boy.