Home Again

2017

Comedy / Drama / Romance

Synopsis


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23.976
01 hr 37 min
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English
PG-13
23.976
01 hr 37 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by singe594 / 10

It's bad, no I mean it, it's really bad

Let me preface this by say that I love movies, I'm not a movie snob by any stretch. I particularly love Rom-Coms and have been disappointed that they have fallen out of favor over the last decade or so. Some of my favorite movies are cheesy Rom-Coms; Never Been Kissed, 13 Going on 30, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Holiday and even Ghost of Girlfriends Past.

I saw this film as a pre-screener ahead of it's official release. Sometimes they pre-screen movies because they are great and want them to get buzz, sometimes they are really bad, and hope the audience falls in love before the critics get their hands on it. This is bad, really bad. Not just in story, but in acting, directing, editing score; you name it, it's bad. I love Reese Witherspoon and never thought I would see her phone in a performance but here it is. She doesn't so much as act as rolls her eyes and makes goofy faces; it's embarrassing to watch. There are so many cast members here that usually can do no wrong in my book; Candice Bergen, Lake Bell, Michael Sheen. They are given nothing to work with and Michael Sheen's character is nothing more than a cartoon. Nat Wolff is up and coming; I've seen him in a few things and think he's generally pretty good. Thanks to the very poor editing you can see him laughing in two scenes where he's clearly not supposed to be.

The whole film is just embarrassingly bad. You know the movie Mother's Day, how "bad" that is? It looks like an Oscar winning film compared to this. I looked up the movie after the screening, curious how it went so wrong. It's written and directed by Nancy Myer's daughter. Her daughter seems to have no credentials to be able to sell and direct a movie so my thought is that there were a lot of favors and strings pulled and it shows. I wouldn't even recommend watching this movie if you were sick in bed and it happened to pop up on TV.

Reviewed by bkrauser-81-311064 / 10

Fluffy and Forgettable

Home Again is one of those movies that's easy to like and easy to forget. It's amateurish, the characters are flat and one-dimensional and the story is practically a celebration in vapidity and contrivance. Despite this, there's not a mean bone in Home Again's body. There's lightness to it. It's boring but charming in much the same way the interior of a Pier 1 is.

Reese Witherspoon stars as Alice Kinney, a recently separated mother of two who has returned to her childhood home in California to start over. Her mother (Bergen) and deceased father were once considered Hollywood royalty; a fact that three young potential filmmakers (Wolff, Alexander, Rudnitsky) go positively gaga for when they meet her at a bar celebrating her 40th birthday. Blah, blah, blah the three end up moving into the guest house. The estranged husband (Sheen) shows up later making four and Reese Witherspoon tries to cobble together a life amid the chaos.

Did I say chaos, I meant unrealistically utopian equilibrium. Alice and her brother-husbands seem to have little scruples about living in a house together. This is in large part because they don't display any of the negative attributes of a regular human being. Stubbornness becomes selflessness and possessiveness is painted like enamored school boy crushes. Most of the external conflicts exist despite the setup and all the internal conflicts have the undemanding clarity of a children's storybook. To top it all off we're given the comparable setting of a 30's screwball comedy, vis a vis an expansive Hollywood villa, ensuring that the prime demographic will finally have a respite from the grave, emotionally challenging story arcs of The Gilmore Girls (2000-2007).

The movie takes its reverse Three's Company (1976-1984) setup exactly where you think it's going to go. At one point one of Alice's friend's muses that she has 24-hour childcare, tech support and sex all under one roof. Because the children are around, the dynamic stays as pallid and PG as it can, with focus being constantly siphoned off into unnecessary subplots. These subplots provide the few moments of character development for the three boys, but once they're living and interacting in Alice's quaint Spanish style abode, it becomes clear that the main reason for them being in this movie is to be a plot device.

This is where, if you read way too much into it like I did, you get to the good stuff. If viewed through a specific lens, Home Again could be seen as an examination of modern gender relations. At 40, Alice struggles with never truly finding the complete package – a handsome man who can exhibit maturity, meet obligations, provide economic stability, and healthy emotional growth for her and her children while seeing Alice as an equal. This point is further highlighted by the fact that she idolizes her father despite him not exactly being a prize either. So instead of compromising she compartmentalizes. She fits the guys in this film into boxes of positive traits and for the most part, they fit them, at least until the plot deems this equilibrium is no longer stable.

Obviously this line of thought coaxes a lot of interesting questions about masculinity, femininity and modern relationships. But using this movie as a starting point for such a discussion is like reading Tarot through McDonalds Monopoly tokens. This movie isn't Antonia's Line (1995) it's Sweet Home Alabama (2002); which is to say a fluffy and forgettable piece of popular entertainment.

That said Home Again is not all that unpleasant to sit through, in large part because Witherspoon knows exactly how to move sugary confections like this. She proves effortlessly charming and despite some bad editing and awkward staging, Home Again glides on the power of her gossamer wings to give us a moderately entertaining distraction. See it if you must.

Reviewed by David Ferguson ([email protected]) / 10

the buddy system

Greetings again from the darkness. Let's just get this out of the way upfront. There is a proved and established market for mindless fluff designed to allow women to laugh at the messes created by "real life" relationships, careers, and parenting. In fact, first time writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer is merely continuing the traditions set by her bloodline. She is the daughter of filmmakers Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer who shared an Oscar screen writing nomination for PRIVATE BENJAMIN (1980), and collaborated on other Romantic-Comedies such as FATHER OF THE BRIDE (I and II), and BABY BOOM (1987). Rom- Coms exist to bring some balance to the universe of Comic Book film adaptations for fan boys. It is possible to have quality filmmaking on both sides Â… no matter how rare it seems.

Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon stars as Alice Kinney. It's her 40th birthday, and she's a chipper lady recently separated from her music industry husband (Michael Sheen) and moved with their two daughters (Lola Flanery, Eden Grace Redfield) from New York to Los Angeles. Alice is in full "starting over" mode, including kicking off a new home decorating business. During a drunken birthday celebration with her friends, Alice hooks up with a younger man. The next morning, Alice's mom (Candice Bergen) invites Harry (the young man played by Pico Anderson) and his two buddies (Nat Wolff, Jon Rudnitsky - all 3 are budding filmmakers) to move into Alice's house. What follows is a maybe/maybe not romance between Harry and Alice, a bonding between the fellows and Alice's daughters, new business struggles for Alice, the sudden return to the scene of Alice's husband, and an endless stream of movie-making meetings for the 3 guys.

That's a recap of the story, but it doesn't address the real issue. For years, we have been hearing that the good-old-boy Hollywood network needed to back more female-centric projects: movies about women, movies directed by women, movies written by women, movies produced by women. Well this one has ALL of that, and yet I can only imagine the outrage if a man had written/directed/produced this exact film. Let's discuss.

Alice is positioned as a "brave" and "strong" woman for moving her kids across the country and starting over. What allows this woman to be so courageous? Well see, she is the daughter of a deceased filmmaker who had a successful career and left her a multi-million dollar California estate … conveniently, one with a guest house for the three young men to live in. And who in their right mind, and with two young daughters, would invite three total strangers to move in – especially the night after - even if one of them looks to be yanked right out of an Abercrombie ad? There is also Alice's interaction with her first client (played by Lake Bell). Despite despicable treatment from the rich lady, Alice doesn't stand her ground until yet another drunken bout of liquid courage occurs. The two daughters are smart and cute, but there is an obvious shortage of daily parenting happening here – the daughters seem to show up only when a dose of precociousness is required. The scenes with Alice and her estranged husband are appropriately awkward, but the communication seems hokey … at least until we witness true hokeyness in the cartoonish exchanges between the (now) four gentlemen. In fact, all male characters are written as cartoons, which we might view as "getting even" with the many times female characters were poorly written; however, since the female lead here is just as unreal, that theory doesn't hold.

The paint-by-numbers approach carries through as we check all the boxes: cute kids, a pet dog, apologetic ex, hunky new suitor, no financial hardships, loads of delightful dialogue, Ms. Witherspoon flashing more facial contortions than Jim Carrey at his peak, at least two cheesy musical montages, a mad dash to the kid's play/recital/game, and even the cherry on top … a Carole King song at the end. In a year with so many wonderful female-centric films, this one is difficult to comprehend – except that maybe, given who her parents are, perhaps Ms. Meyers-Shyer is actually the beneficiary of that good old boy network of which we've heard tell.

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