HOME AGAIN (USA/12A/97mins)
Directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Nat Wolff, Candice Bergen, Pico Alexander.
After her film director father dies and leaves her his LA home, and her marriage falls apart, Alice (Reese Witherspoon) and her three kids move cross-country to start a new life. Not long after they arrive, Alice meets three young men in their twenties; Teddy (Nat Wolff), Harry (Pico Alexander) and George (Jon Rudnitsky) on a night out. It is not long before Alice’s mother Lillian (Candice Bergen) decides the three aspiring filmmakers should live in Alice’s guest home while they wait for their big break.
THE VERDICT: Written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of Rom-Com Queen Nancy Meyers, Home Again should have been the film to rejuvenate the rom-com which, truth be told, has been in decline for some time. Unfortunately, even with Reese Witherspoon and Michael Sheen on board, Home Again is vapid, predictable and uninteresting.
Reese Witherspoon does her best with Alice, but never manages to make the character jump off the screen. There is little commend the character or make her anything other than a collection of quirks and clichés, other than Alice being the daughter of a famous filmmaker, and it is hard to root for a character who does not feel like a real person, or even someone the audience can identify with. The three young men who move in with Alice seem to have one defining trait – the love interest, the cute one, the writer – and there is nothing else to commend them, even with all the superficial drama created in the screenplay. Michael Sheen does his best to make Alice’s former husband Austin a charming guy, but like the rest of the cast, small things are the ones that bother him the most, making him a profoundly unlikeable character.
Meyers-Shyer’s screenplay is one filled with cloches and predictable choices made by the characters. There is very little that happens in the screenplay that feels surprising or new, and the characters find small issues ones that cause the most problems; someone not being able to make a dinner date even though they said they may not be able to leads to screaming matches and the end of a romance. This means that Home Again goes from being a film with potential to be heightened but charming, to a film with unrelatable characters and preposterous situations.
As director, Meyers-Shyer never manages to get the pace of Home Again going, or to put the shine on a film filled with filmmakers, rich LA types and aspirational people. The film cuts between stories, meaning the whole thing feels rather messy, and even the scenes with the potential to be charming and comedic feel awkward and slightly stilted.
In all, there is very little to recommend Home Again to audiences. God bless them, Sheen and Witherspoon try their best, but they are fighting against one dimensional characters, cheesy writing and vapid scenarios.
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Home Again sees Reese Witherspoon return to romcom territory. It’s pretty rocky territory throughout, relying heavily on an unlikely scenario that could only exist in the movie world. Rather fitting, since the movie world is an influence.

    Alice (Witherspoon) is a home decorator and designer who lives with her two children in L.A.. She’s also the daughter of a respected, Academy-award-winning director and this is the house she grew up in. Separated from her husband Austen (Michael Sheen), who lives in New York, she’s just hit the big four zero but is content with her life. Her friends try to arrange a date for her, but instead she bumps into Harry (Pico Alexander), Teddy (Nat Wolff) and George (Jon Rudnitsky). They’re all in ‘the industry’ and are trying to get their film off the ground. That involves swimming with Hollywood sharks. There’s an immediate attraction between Alice and the younger Harry, so they almost hook up back at her place. The next morning, she wakes to find that the others have stayed over in the guest house. The guys need a place to stay. Being amiable and friendly helps too. So, she puts them up for a few days. They help out and soon become part of the family…

    Witherspoon was in a film a few years ago called The Good Lie, which showed her innate talent for balancing both comedy and drama. The plot of Home Again has some slight similarities, but it’s a distinctly average film that could have come straight from the production line without any stamp of originality. The thing it most resembles is a rejected sitcom pilot. This reviewer can see it now… Three Guys And A Cougar? The Single Mom And Them? It’s not hard to imagine, given the cutesy domestic scenario, generational differences and overall air of nice people just trying to get along with each other. All that’s missing is the canned laughter. That would be a must, since this film is a laugh-free zone. It would have to be rejected though, since what single mother would blindly allow three strangers into her house, particularly when there are young children present. Only in the movies.

    The directing debut of Hallie Meyers-Shyer follows very much on the formula of her mother Nancy’s playbook (The Holiday, What Women Want), but she’s not really a chip off the old block. Her script needs a lot of work, given how thinly sketched the characters are. This is particularly egregious in the case of Alice, a shallow character who just doesn’t convince as even resembling a modern, independent single mother. Meyers-Shyer fails to find some meaning in the character. You have to feel sorry for Witherspoon here. Not looking 41, her so-called cougar is too homely and her romance with Harry fizzles rather than sets off the fireworks. It’s a part that’s beneath her talent. Maybe she stay do a McConaughey and stay away from insipid romcoms. Home Again is ideal in-flight entertainment, as it’s inoffensive, sanitised and cutesy cookie cutter entertainment. It might send you quietly to sleep too. That’s not a recommendation. **