Saturday, 16 December 2017

Movie Review: Home Again (2017)


A lightweight drama, Home Again offers a slice of life triggered by a weird premise with nowhere to go.

Recently separated 40-year old Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon) relocates her life and two young daughters from New York back to Los Angeles, and settles in at the estate of her late father, celebrated independent filmmaker John Kinney. Up-and-coming young filmmakers and friends Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky), and Teddy (Nat Wolff) are in town to negotiate a feature-length film deal after the breakout success of their short. Harry is the director, George the writer and Teddy (George's brother) is an actor, and all three are in their twenties.

The trio meet Alice while partying at a club, and thanks to Alice's mom Lillian (Candice Bergen) they end up staying at the Kinney guesthouse. Alice and Harry are drawn to each other and start an unlikely relationship despite the age difference. The three guys also make friends with Alice's daughters, writer George helping older daughter Isabel break out of her shell. Things appear to be going smoothly until Alice and Harry hit a big bump in their relationship, and Alice's husband Austen (Michael Sheen), a record producer, shows up and tries to reclaim her love.

Directed and written by Hallie Meyers-Shyer (daughter of  Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer), Home Again exists solely as a star vehicle of sorts for Reese Witherspoon. The concept of a mother entering middle age enjoying the attention of three hunky and remarkably well behaved young men appears to have been hatched over afternoon cocktails, and that's as far as the plot goes. Once Harry, George and Teddy move in with Alice and her daughters, the film is caught in the open somewhere between the fields of bland and the plains of predictable.

At least Meyers-Sheyer does not sell out to cheap laughs, nor does she veer towards melodrama. But a whole lot of vanilla nothingness is also not a good place to land. It proves difficult to create any sort of compelling viewing out of a situation where Alice secures free childcare, free sex and free handymen services. The romance elements are more of a fling, the intrusion of husband Austen as the mood disruptor is almost painfully awful and ends with an atrociously juvenile punch-up. At least the sub-plot about Harry and his friends navigating the Hollywood sharks who find a way to ruin every good idea offers some welcome wit and sarcasm.

Witherspoon saves as many scenes as she can and is never less than watchable. The two young actresses who play her daughters, Lola Flanery and Eden Grace Redfield, are cute and capable. Candice Bergen gets a couple of good moments but is generally wasted. The three actors who portray the young filmmakers have no opportunity to rise above the status of props.

Home Again seeks familiar comforts only to stumble into stale surroundings.






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