Home Again

Five's a crowd
Verdict: 
3/10 - Lack of chemistry between the film's key characters means this rom-com falls flat.
Release Date: 
Friday, September 29, 2017
Written by: 

Reese Witherspoon stars as a mother who has her life changed unexpectedly when she allows three young men to move into her guest house.

3

Part of the appeal of rom-coms is the formulaic nature, with a happy ending almost always guaranteed.

While Home Again tries to fit within the genre, unfortunatel, the elements simply don't add up here.

Marking Hallie Meyers-Shyer's directorial debut, the film follows newly single mother-of-two Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon), who has just moved back into the home of her late father, an Oscar-winning director.

On a night out, Alice bumps into three twenty-something filmmakers - Harry (Pico Alexander), Teddy (Nat Wolff) and George (John Rudnitsky) - whom she drunkenly invites back to her luxurious California abode.

Alice and handsome Harry instantly hit it off, but he's too wasted to make any moves, and the next morning she finds that the trio have crashed on her couch, only to be discovered by Alice's former actress mother Lillian Stewart (Candice Bergen).

Impressed by the boys' enthusiasm for her work, Lillian invites them to stay in the guesthouse while they try and land a producer for their film, and the group quickly become one happy family-like unit.

The plot turns pretty predictable, with Harry and Alice embarking on a "secret" romance after he fixes her kitchen cabinet (how romantic!), George attempting to win over her affections, and Alice's estranged music executive husband Austen (Michael Sheen) re-emerging on the scene.

While juggling the different dynamics as well as parenting, Alice has also set herself the additional challenge of setting up her own interior design business, and is pretty stressed out by her first client Zoey (Lake Bell), a self-centred socialite.

The sequences speed along, attempting to convey the message that 40-year-old Alice can truly have it all - a toyboy, a business and a good relationship with her ex.

Witherspoon brings her signature brightness to the part, but her character is so generic that it is hard to have empathy for her situation, especially as she's never had to work a day in her life and is clearly set up financially thanks to her successful parents.

She does a nice job of brushing off any potential concerns a woman might have about dating a younger man, yet sadly, the actress and Pico Alexander have zero onscreen chemistry, making the whole scenario seem desperately contrived.

Alexander, who has appeared in War Machine and TV show Orange Is the New Black, doesn't bring much depth to his role, and certainly didn't convince as a leading man.

A scruffy yet charming Sheen brings a welcome bit of personality to proceedings, as does Bergen, yet both stars only appear fleetingly.

Bright spots also include the introduction of Alice's cute daughters, Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield), but it is kind of worrying that a mother-of-two is happy to allow her strange house guests, who she barely knows, to act as childcare providers.

What is also concerning is the blatant whiteness of the cast, bar one token scene, especially in light of the focus on promoting diversity in 2017.

With Home Again, Meyers-Shyer has attempted to follow in the footsteps of her mother Nancy Meyers - the helmer of classics such as The Holiday, Something's Gotta Give and What Women Want - and father Charles Shyer, who worked on successes such as Private Benjamin and The Parent Trap.

But apart from recreating her mother's famously covetable kitchens and interiors, the film fails to evoke any kind of emotional response, isn't relatable, and most embarrassingly, is devastatingly generic.

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