UK Release Date: 29th September 2017
Runtime: 97 minutes
Director: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Writer: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, Jon Rudnitsky, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen, Lake Bell
Synopsis: A trio of filmmakers lodge in the home of a single mother, only for matters to become complicated when her ex-husband comes to stay and there’s friction between him and the guys.
Romcom specialist Nancy Meyers has created a very particular oeuvre for herself over the last few decades. Her daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, has now proven to be something of a chip off the old block with Home Again, which couldn’t possibly be more Meyers. It’s about a high-flying, independent, white collar woman with an enormous, idyllic home and an almost supernaturally opulent kitchen. She’s also struggling valiantly against the adversity created by the various men in her life, which makes her about as Meyers as it’s possible to get. Fortunately, all of this is wrapped up in a genuinely charming story.
Alice (Reese Witherspoon) is the daughter of a recently deceased famous film director and his movie star wife (Candice Bergen). In between her work as an interior designer, she is a single mother to the two daughters she has with husband Austen (Michael Sheen), from whom she has recently separated. After a birthday night out leads to a one night stand with budding director Harry (Pico Alexander), he and his two creative partners, writer George (Jon Rudnitsky) and actor Teddy (Nat Wolff), end up living in her home. When Austen turns up out of the blue, things get complicated in a hurry.
Home Again is a deeply conventional film, but one rescued by the ever-charming Reese Witherspoon. She brings Alice to life as a frazzled character who somehow remains relatable, despite the fact she’s living in remarkable luxury. Much of the film’s not inconsiderable heart comes from Witherspoon’s luminous turn, which shows she’s just as comfortable appearing in throwaway material as the more weighty awards fare that has been her bread and butter in recent years. Her interplay with the other characters is great and she’s able to mine plenty of comedy from the age disparity between her and the lads she takes on as lodgers.
The trio of men, too, are nicely characterised as slightly naive youngsters being gobbled up whole by the Hollywood machine. Nat Wolff is sweet and sensitive, Jon Rudnitsky forms a genuinely touching mentor relationship with Witherspoon’s character’s daughter and Pico Alexander has impressive romantic chemistry with Witherspoon herself. All three of them are believable and likeable, which means you genuinely root for their success as the narrative goes on.
The film gets its X-factor when Michael Sheen turns up halfway through. Sheen is perfect as the slightly slimy former husband of Witherspoon, who feels like he has the right to worm his way back into her life. His macho sparring with the three filmmakers is a delight to watch, particularly when things tip over into a hilariously inept flurry of violence. Sheen elevates the movie’s pulse just when it needs it, as Meyers-Shyer runs the risk of turning her film into a sickly sweet snooze.
Home Again isn’t a film that’s interested in pushing boundaries or creating a thrilling cinema experience. It is, however, a very pleasant comedy with a performance from Witherspoon at its heart that is another example of the star’s ability to craft identifiable characters whom you want to see succeed. The character relationships are given a reasonable degree of complexity and, although, the syrupy end point is perhaps predictable, getting there proves to be really good fun.
Pop or Poop?
Reese Witherspoon’s glittering star power, along with a slimy supporting appearance from Michael Sheen, elevates a pretty conventional romcom tale in Home Again. Nancy Meyers’s daughter shows she’s every bit as capable as her mother of creating a sweet and enjoyable comedy, with a strong female performance at its heart.
This isn’t a film that will prove to be particularly memorable when it comes to the end of the year, but you can probably pencil it in as your mother’s Christmas present. That’s one stocking filler down.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.