Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: This is not the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy return you’re likely expecting if you count yourself as someone who regularly watches Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama on cable.
Instead, Home Again is a “romantic comedy” only if you insist that your movies be categorized in some specific way; saying Home Again is a rom-com is like saying an iphone is a great calculator. Yes, technically … but my god, you’re missing the point.
Witherspoon shines with the kind of type-A intensity that made her soar in Election and was recently on display in Big Little Lies as Alice, a recently separated 40-year-old mom who’s moved back to California with her two young daughters. She goes a little crazy on her birthday night out, and brings a twenty-something suitor — not to mention his two friends! — back to her place.
In the morning, with some encouragement from her mother (Candice Bergen), she invites the young, broke filmmakers to move into her guesthouse. Just for now.
And that’s the movie! Can they all live together and make it work? Why not try?
It’s downright deranged. I loved it.
Home Again is a movie that has just about every character in the movie tell you that Reese Witherspoon is hot, desirable, competent and the greatest. It’s tagline, “Starting over is not for beginners,” doesn’t make any sense. Witherspoon’s character’s ex-husband (Michael Sheen) raises the valid concern that he doesn’t love his two young daughters living with three strange Hollywood bros — and he’s treated like the bad guy!
All of this may make it sound like I’m championing it as a fun “bad” movie, in the same way people love to watch The Room or, no judgment, Twilight: New Moon. But I was genuinely delighted by this odd little film.
I was genuinely delighted by this odd little film.
Written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer (the daughter of Nancy Meyers, who produced), the film certainly has a version of Meyers’ famous aesthetic, and fans of Something’s Gotta Give or It’s Complicated will find plenty of similar notes — Alice’s kitchen, for one, is excellent.
It’s a pleasant, very low-conflict tale about a privileged woman at a crossroads in her life, with both charm and attractive men to spare. While the specifics are stretched to extremes, and it certainly meanders a bit, it’s easy to see many people enjoying a story about a woman grappling with the fact that the decisions she made at 25 aren’t exactly ones she wants to stick with at 40.
As long as you can get yourself on board with accepting that no one in the film behaves like a human likely would, you’ll love it.
It’s my duty to report I had a smile on my face the whole goddamn time. Nat Wolff punching Micheal Sheen in a sort of unhinged take on Colin Firth and Hugh Grant fighting in the street in Bridget Jones’s Diary? I’m in. A charming Jon Rudnitsky helping Witherspoon’s pre-teen daughter out of her shell? Yup, OK. The climax of the film takes place at a middle-school play festival, for goodness sake. It’s nice! We can all agree 2017 could use a little more nice.
And maybe that’s why, ultimately, the movie is worth seeing. We don’t see movies in a vacuum; there are a lot of complex problems right now that are unsolvable. Perhaps part of the weird, easy joy of this film was to watch one, led by a radiant Witherspoon, that was.
All I know is I want to have friends over and watch Home Again again — without thinking too hard, and ideally after we’ve had a glass or two of wine.
Home Again is in theaters Sept. 8.