Watching Home Again is an experience akin to drinking an entire bottle of a Muscat-Blanc. It’s deliciously sweet and gets you all giddy to begin with but ultimately you’re going to wake up with a head-ache. The debut feature from Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of the genre empress Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, continues the family tradition of the perky female rom-com with a keen eye for soft furnishings and pristine kitchen-ware.
Alice (Reese Witherspoon) plays a recently separated mother of two going through a bit of a rough patch. By rough patch I mean that she is unable to truly express herself in her work as an interior designer, whilst living in a plush LA mansion she inherited (along with a comfortable bank account) from her deceased millionaire father, who was once the darling of old Hollywood gentry. Because you know, money isn’t everything.
After one drunken night out, she meets three young film-makers and decides to let them move into her ‘guest cottage’ because her mother (Candice Bergen) thinks it might be a nice change of pace for Alice and perhaps it might be good for her kids to have three strange men to play with.
Not only does she allow these total strangers to move in with her, she also fails to tell her kids father, played by a twinkly eyed Micheal Sheen, who understandably travels from his home in New York to LA after discovering there are strange men living with his children.
The three 20-something film-makers Harry (Pico Alexander), Teddy (Nat Wolff) and George (Jon Rudnitsky) all seem to have a thing for Alice, but it’s director Harry that openly falls head over heels.
As expected, Home Again has every box checked on the Nancy Meyers romantic comedy checklist; including the prerequisite A-list cast, incompetent male characters and a big slice of privileged white woman angst. Ticks. Every. Box. What a shame it isn’t Nancy herself behind the camera.
I love a good Nancy Meyers rom-com. Films like Somethings Gotta Give and The Intern are great; feel-good, honest (ish) examinations of human relationships, only a little contrived but acceptably so. There’s something real in the dialogue between say, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give, that convinces you those two people are genuinely falling in love.
The problem with Home Again is that the film is trying very hard to portray a certain kind of happiness and fulfillment that is very not relatable to the majority of its audience. Long montages of characters laughing and joking together set to music gives the impression you’re watching a Tena Lady commercial and paper-thin character development provide little insight into actual human behaviour. The majority of the dialogue is shallow and forced and feels like a first draft rather than a finished film script.
Witherspoon has taken the lead in what may as well be a Hallie Meyers-Shyer biopic. A daughter of an extremely successful film-maker makes a film about… what its like to be the daughter of an extremely successful film-maker. For a feature debut, Home Again is very disappointing. Hallie Meyers-Shyer has done nothing short of follow her mothers formula, only with a little less class and intelligence.