Sometimes, a movie matches the time of year it comes out in. Home Again is one of those cases. This is a nice and breezy, if a little too light, film to match the waning days of summer, when the air turns cold and the days get sweeter. Yes, I just sounded like an absolute wank.
But here’s the simple set-up. Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon) is a interior designer and fresh divorcee. Her husband Austen (Michael Sheen) was a 40-plus-year-old man still partying like he was in his twenties. Looking for somewhere to stay, Alice and her two daughters move back into her dad’s old house in Los Angeles.
The dad, known as director John Kinney, spent the 70s directing the kind of rough-edged relationship movies that defined the era. Think Mike Nichols’ kind of stuff from the late 60s-early 70s (The Graduate, Carnal Knowledge). He wasn’t the best husband either, leaving his wife Lilian (Candice Bergen) after infidelities.
The house has a room dedicated to his past triumphs, but Alice isn’t thinking about it right now. Instead, she’s focused on starting anew with her interior design business and getting over Austen by meeting new men.
To that end, she meets three aspiring creators, each trying to make it big in a different Hollywood field. Harry (Pico Alexander) is a smooth-talking director that Alice falls for within five seconds. George (Jon Rudnitsky) is the screenwriter for Harry, frustrated of being in his shadow. Teddy (Nat Wolff) is an actor and Harry’s brother; he doesn’t seem to possess a manipulative bone in his body. That’s in contrast to the other two.
They’re not perfect, and neither is their film project, which studio big-wigs are trying to dilute into something they don’t want. In the meantime, none of them have money or a place to live. So they party with Alice and convince her mother to guilt trip the daughter into letting them stay.
Harry and George even take surrogate father roles with Alice’s children, which must make them look even more attractive. At this point, it’s important to note that all three guys are portrayed as being at least 10-12 years younger than Alice.
Creepy? Possibly, but this movie has such a pristine and sweet sheen around it that you don’t even notice. There’s a reason for that, and it comes from whose behind the camera.
Home Again was directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of famed female director Nancy Meyers. Mom’s movies (What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give) are throwbacks to the 60s and 70s Hollywood, where big-named stars could look beautiful, engage in relationship follies and maybe make you question your own.
The daughter’s film is like a Diet Coke version of that. Sure, there’s Witherspoon, looking radiant as ever, charming her way through a thin script. The other actors are all having fun here, giving the script (written by Meyers-Shyer) the levity it deserves.
So the potential creepiness I mentioned regarding the three guys just shacking up at Alice’s place? This movie is so nice, you gloss over it because you don’t want to hurt its feelings.
With that being said, this movie lacks the teeth that some of mom’s efforts have, maybe because everything that happens here feels light. Again, the word “breezy” comes to mind.
But the feeling is two light. I suspect it’s because Meyers-Shyer can’t focus on a main relationship to get behind, and half-asses the treatment on all of them. In the beginning, there’s a lot of Alice and Harry. Then when he unintentionally stands her up, the focus shifts to George as a potential romantic partner (he drives the kids to work!).
So there’s a potential love triangle, at least until Austen shows up pleading forgiveness. Oh boy. George, Harry and Teddy all band together to try and win back Alice’s attention. For what? I’m still trying to figure that out.
By this point, I accepted that Home Again was the film equivalent of a well-meaning Valley Girl. Sure, it’s nice and pretty, but what you see is what you get.
In other words, it’s the exact opposite of a film John Kinney would’ve made.
Published by Jagger Czajka