Hot Take: If movies were edible, Home Again would be comfort food.
In 2014, Reese Witherspoon’s role in Wild earned her a 2nd Academy Award nomination. 9 years prior, she won for her role in Walk the Line. Both films represent a more serious side of Witherspoon. Even though Witherspoon has established herself as an excellent actress who can tackle serious roles, her most recognizable roles have been in romantic comedies. Outside of her voice work in a few animated films, the movies to bank the most box office were Sweet Home Alabama, Four Christmases, Legally Blonde and it’s sequel. The one thing Hollywood has been void of lately is a cheesy romantic comedy sometimes referred to as a chick flick. As the roles for women have opened up and there’s been proven box office success in women in roles dominated by men *COUGH* Wonder Woman *COUGH*, the romantic comedy hasn’t played as important of a role in the box office as it had previously. There’s been a void almost. Home Again, the latest from Reese Witherspoon and first from Hallie Meyers-Shyer who is the daughter of Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, It’s Complicated, The Intern), is a perfectly viable option to fill that void.
In Home Again, Witherspoon plays Alice, a recently separated mother of 2 who always goes crazy on her birthday (her self-proclaimed New Year’s Eve) turns 40 and winds up bringing 3 young men home after a wild night. Oh, don’t worry, she only almost sleeps with 1 of them. The young men are struggling artists working on getting a film released. Harry (Pico Alexander) is the one Alice is attracted to and who likewise is attracted to her. He’s also the smooth talker of the trio and the one trying to get their film sold. George (Jon Rudnitsky) is the writer of the film and a sensitive soul who understands women. Teddy (Nat Wolff) is the actor. When Alice’s mom (Candice Bergen) stops by in the morning and meets the trio, she feels for their plight as Alice’s dad was a successful filmmaker and Alice’s mom was an actress. She convinces Alice to allow the 3 young men to stay in the guest house. Reluctant at first, Alice sees them interacting with her 2 young girls who instantly hit it off with them and she’s convinced this might be a good idea.
Of course, Alice and Harry agree to remain friends only which lasts all of 15 minutes. Alice’s husband (Michael Sheen), a successful music producer, gets jealous and decides to come from New York to L.A. to try and win Alice back. And I think you get the idea of how Home Again unfolds.
These types of roles were built for Witherspoon who is her charismatic self throughout. She could seemingly play this type of role in her sleep. If this film came out 15 years ago, it would have probably gotten lost in an oversaturated market for exactly these types of films. However, being released now, when the movie industry is severely lacking this as an option, Home Again is a refreshing change of pace from an industry more interested in making comic book flicks, sequels and inexpensive horror movies. While Home Again is mostly disposable, the screwball plot checks all the romantic comedy boxes and the supporting cast has such great chemistry, the film works beyond being a Witherspoon vehicle. This is a movie that you’ll likely forget about the laundry for 90 minutes whenever it comes on cable.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
Over the years, Witherspoon has chosen memorable romantic comedy roles. Actually, I was surprised when I looked and saw how few there were in comparison to her body of work since her roles in Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama were so memorable. Home Again isn’t quite those movies but Witherspoon shines on screen and delivers another solid performance.
- For the Love of Movies
Obviously, as the daughter of Nancy Meyers, writer/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer grew up in the movie industry. She even had a few bit parts in some of her mother’s films. (You probably don’t remember her as Little Girl in Barn in I Love Trouble or Girl at Lunch Counter in What Women Want.) Meyers-Shyer presents a subplot that pays homage to films and the plight of the struggling artist that, in it’s own cheesy way, really adds something to the movie.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- It’s Also the Cinematic Equivalent of Empty Calories
As entertaining as this film is, if you do any sort of deep thinking about the movie, it’s likely to be ruined. Everything is too shiny and sparkly. Everyone is great looking. The “tough” prospect of being a single mom is tempered by a gorgeous house left behind by her successful filmmaking father and the decision to allow 3 strange men to stay in the house is reached in a nanosecond. There are no awards in this film’s future. Not even an MTV Movie Award.