Home Again: If you could return, would you really want to?
The new release Home Again is a bland movie with a bland title. It stars Reese Witherspoon, an actress whose career has included its fair share of romantic comedies and lighter offerings, including such titles as Sweet Home Alabama, Four Christmases, and the Legally Blonde series. The cast includes Michael Sheen (Underworld, Frost/Nixon), respected longtime film and TV actress Candice Bergen, and a trio of relative newcomers; Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, and Jon Rudnitsky (SNL).
Home Again is the first feature from Hallie Meyers-Shyer, a director/writer with filmmaking in her blood. Her parents are well-known directors Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer who over the years have been responsible for bringing films such as It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give, Alfie, and the Father of the Bride series, to the big screen. With this in mind, it’s obvious that Meyers-Shyer takes the old adage about ‘writing what you know’ very seriously, because the film draws heavily on her own experience as a kid growing up among the glitz and glamour of the motion picture industry.
The plot of Home Again feels more like a TV pilot than a big screen feature film. It takes place in Los Angeles with a main character, Alice, who is the only child of a brief marriage between a famous director and his actress AKA muse. Even with subject matter that involves things like marital separation and a romance between an older woman and younger man, Home Again has definitely earned its G rating. The film begins with Alice reminiscing about growing up with her famous parents and narrating details about how she has eventually ended up coming back to live in her childhood home.
Her privileged upbringing is then contrasted with the introduction of three twenty-something aspiring filmmakers (an actor, director, and writer) just as they’re being thrown out of a Hollywood motel. It seems the trio have made an acclaimed short that they want to make into a feature (shot in classic black and white of course). Strangely enough, the very same night, the men become homeless because they couldn’t pay their motel bill, though they still manage to afford a night out drinking and partying at an LA club. And it’s here that they encounter Alice and her friends who have gone to the exact same hot spot to celebrate the newly separated woman’s 40th birthday.
Lillian, Alice’s mother, first encounters the three male strangers the next morning when she walks in as the partygoers are all waking up in her daughter’s home after a long night of drinking and dancing. Instead of being concerned or protective of her daughter and her two young grandchildren, Lillian stays and spends a brief time with the men before unexpectedly inviting them to stay, not in her guest house but in Alice’s. Obviously, the aging screen star has never considered that perhaps one or all of these complete strangers could be registered sex offenders…but they’re so cute!
Apparently the appeal of these three individuals; Harry, Teddy, and George, is undeniable and they appear to be utterly irresistible to females of all ages including Alice, her mother, and even her two young girls. Each of the men just happen to be the some of the most wholesome, clean cut, well-intentioned young men ever to inhabit sin city AKA Hollywood. All three are the very picture of well-groomed, respectful, compassionate, caregiving young men who go out of their way to help Alice with her parenting duties, all the while not causing any of the rowdy alcohol or drug-induced trouble usually associated with men of their age.
Home Again is a harmless enough movie if you enjoy contrived and outlandishly implausible plots occupied by characters with little to no relation to real life. The movie is a little like cinematic cotton candy; brightly coloured and saccharine sweet but ultimately lacking in substance and authenticity. In the end all that’s left is a whole lot of empty calories and whipped sugar.
Home Again is now playing in theatres.