Home Again


★★

Directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Pico Alexander, Michael Sheen, Lake Bell, Jon Rudnitsky, Nat Wolff, Lola Flanery

Film Review by Kieran Freemantle


The rom-com is a genre that feels many film fans with dread: being seen as too dependent of clichés and broad humour. Home Again fortunately is aiming for the Woody Allen model of comedy and is an inoffensive, if forgettable offering. Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon) is a recently separated mother-of-two who hits the big 4-0 and moves to her father's house on the outskirts of Los Angeles. After a drunken night to celebrate her birthday, Alice nearly sleeps with a much younger man, Harry (Pico Alexander), which leads to the young filmmaker and his friends, George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) to move into Alice's home as they try to make it big in Hollywood. One thing Hollywood loves are movies about Hollywood and that properly helped Home Again being produced. Alice is the daughter of a celebrated writer-director and the three young men are filmmakers who want to turn their award-winning short into a feature film and keep their artistic integrity: the real-life filmmakers obviously didn't see the irony. Home Again clearly wanted to be a Woody Allen style film, it started with a voiceover by Alice talking about her relationship with her father and his world and most of the characters are artists of some sort. The filmmakers are obvious, Alice attempts to be an interior designer in Los Angeles and her husband, Austen (Michael Sheen) is a mogul in the music industry. Also like a Woody Allen film, Home Again is filled with subplots, particularly modern Allen films. Home Again has a large cast of characters with their own plots and Alice herself is a man magnet. She has a sexual relationship with Harry and George has an unrequited love for her whilst the male duo work on their filmmaking endeavours. As one of Alice's friends puts it she gets free childcare, tech support and sex. Even Austen becomes a green monster because of Alice's new lodgers. Home Again also comes across as a reverse New Girl: like Jess, Alice is at a low because of the end of her relationship, but instead of moving into an apartment with three men, the three men move to her home. Even the character of George has some basic similarities to Nick from New Girl: both are writers (although George is much more successful) and they share a hairstyle. But New Girl had a Jess' quirky, upbeat personality to drive it, Home Again was blander and due to Alice's obligations as a mother she has to be more sensible and grounded. Home Again has a fine cast and no one gives a bad performance. Alice is likable enough and Witherspoon rarely gives a bad performance. The three young men are all actors with potential, however, Wolff was given the short straw since his character was irrelevant to the story for the most. Sheen developed a bit of a dad bod for his role. The weak links in the cast were the child actors Lola Flanery and Eden Grace Redfield, playing Witherspoon's children. Redfield was so young that it was clear she was just told what to say and her performance was stiff because of it. Flanery was more natural because she was older and she weirdly reminded me of Madeline Duggan, better known as the original Lauren Branning in Eastenders. Flanery's problem was the material she was given because she spoke more like a mini-adult, a girl suffering from anxiety and wanting to go on antidepressants. As a comedy Home Again was a light-hearted but think of humour. It did offer occasional chuckle and a fight scene clearly owes a debt to a similar scene in Bridget Jones' Diary. Yet this spar approach makes Home Again more suited for home viewing at best.

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