If you like the movies of Nancy Meyers, then you enjoyed ones like “It’s Complicated”, “The Intern” and “Something’s Gotta Give”. Along comes her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer, and she is taking her family heritage to heart. She is the creator of “Home Again”, which a similar type of romantic comedy with a strong central female character, surrounded by a group of unusual characters. However, this outing feels less like a new model and more like a retread.
Alice Kinney (Witherspoon) had grown up in Los Angeles, the daughter of a famous movie director and his much younger starlet wife. Alice later married a music producer named Austen (Michael Sheen) and lived in New York, later having two young girls. But the marriage is on the rocks, and Alice moves the two girls back to LA. Her mother Lillian (Candice Bergen) wants Alice to start a new chapter in her life. During her fortieth birthday party with friends, she happens to meet up with three much younger guys.
The three guys are film-makers in LA to turn a small award-winning short into a full-sized movie. They just need the right connections, the right meetings, and oh yeah – a new place to live. They have almost no money and are getting desperate. The young director is Harry (Pico Alexander) and he meets Alice in the bar. Harry’s brother George (Jon Rudnitsky) is the writer and their friend Teddy (Nat Wolff) is an aspiring actor. Harry meets Alice, but at the end of the night, the party has moved to Alice’s place.
The next morning, her mom Lillian meets the guys and finds out that they need some short-term housing. Alice agrees to let them stay in the cozy little guest house on the property. They find the arrangement quite suitable. Especially Harry, because he and Alice start up a hot little romance. Alice has some built-in babysitting and help with the chores, while she attempts to get her business up and started. She is going to be an interior designer, and she has a new client.
Alice meets her client Zoey (Lake Bell) and finds that she is bit more than she can handle. Zoey thinks that a consultant in her house is always avaialble for odd jobs, like unloading furniture and giving her child a bath. Life for Alice keeps getting even more complicated when Austen decides to come to visit at the old house. He meets the trio of much younger men and sees he has some competition. Alice and Austen are together, but the problems in the marriage have not gone away. Will Alice and Austen reconcile, and will the three upcoming film-makers be rewarded by Hollywood?
This movie does its best to keep you involved in Alice’s rich white girl struggles. But the basic plot thread of making the best of an awkward ‘blended’ family does not ring true. The scenes are set in picture book beautiful places, and they are filled with attractive people. However there is not a real situation faced by honest everyday folks for miles. It is all a wonderland fantasy of how some people might want to live.
Reese Witherspoon is a very talented actress. Playing Alice takes about a fraction of her talent and charisma. Not that Witherspoon is bad, but there is not a whole lot room to develop a character. Michael Sheen is very reliable, and he plays Austen mostly in his rugged facial expressions. Candice Bergen still has great timing for dialog and comedy.
The three guys playing the film-makers are just OK. Wolff, Jon Rudnitsky, Pico Alexander leave a handsome impression. But sometimes it is hard to know which is which, and who has what name. The characters are underdeveloped. Even Pico Alexander, who is playing Alice’s love interest, is not on the same level as Reese Witherspoon. He is in the same game, but playing in a different stadium.
If this is your cup of chamomile tea, than “Home Again’ will be a delightful little movie for you. Not everyone has that type of interest in estrogen-powered comedies. So your mileage may vary. Reese Witherspoon does have quite a potential for playing a role and making a character really stand out. Too bad that in this movie, she only can be “Legally Bland”.