Throughout the years I’ve seen plenty of romantic comedies that I really enjoyed. Romantic comedies certainly aren’t my favorite genre but films like Crazy, Stupid, Love, 500 Days of Summer and The Big Sick make me appreciate how well written they can be. Hallie Myers-Shyer, daughter of popular romance writers Nancy Myers and Charles Shyer, steps into the family business by writing and directing her first romantic comedy, Home Again starring Reese Witherspoon. She borrows all the elements of her parents’ movies that made them successful writers and directors.
Alice, played by Reese Witherspoon, is a recently single mother of two who moved from New York to Los Angeles to start a new life in her late director father’s old home with her two daughters. Alice celebrates her 40th birthday with some old friends while making some new friends along the way. Alice’s birthday celebration merges with the night out of three aspiring filmmakers who are celebrating scoring a meeting with a Hollywood producer who is interested in making their acclaimed short film into a feature. The party ends back at Alice’s house where everyone passes out. Alice’s mother, Lillian played by Candice Bergen, arrives in the morning to find all three young men eager to learn about her roles in her late husband’s movie projects. Upon talking to the new house guests, Lillian suggests that the young filmmakers stay with Alice until they can find a place to stay while working on their new film. The film explores the three young men and a newly single mother living together which results in a pretty dull but at times charming romantic comedy.
Hallie Myers-Shyer isn’t doing anything new with this movie as she creates a very clichéd story filled with average characters. Nothing in this movie feels fresh or new and it’s clear that Myers-Shyer has not tried to stray from the style that made her parents famous. Home Again is a completely unrealistic portrayal of these characters who seem to always have things fall into place for them. The trio of filmmakers supposedly are “struggling” artists whose attire and attitude don’t feel struggling at all. They seem quite comfortable with their lifestyle for not having any money and are basically homeless. Most of the trio’s performance lacks emotional depth and their relationship with the family offers no real chemistry.
I thoroughly enjoy Reese Witherspoon as an actress. She has shown audiences before that she can handle both comedic roles as well as dramatic roles like her amazing performance in Wild. Witherspoon certainly isn’t going for an Oscar in Home Again and the script doesn’t allow for her to be a strong character either, and the dialog provided for her is atrocious. Lines like “I know this, because I know this” and “If you take a chance on us, there is an 80% chance we won’t let you down” show that Hallie Myers-Shyer should get in a little more writing practice before working on another movie.
The look of Home Again is jarringly bright and unrealistic. Everything is nicely lit and overly posed to the point that it doesn’t seem that the characters interact with the sets at all. Pairing the brightness of Hollywood lighting with the perfectly spray tanned actors makes this movie very unauthentic and unbelievable.
Home Again attempts to create an old-timey feel by providing a unique love story that tries to connect to its audiences. Although I admire the film’s attempt at trying to be different, Home Again ultimately feels clichéd and typical. Home Again is very formulaic by having strategic moments of falling out and coming back together all leading up to a pleasant ending meant to fill us with lots of warm fuzzies. This has been done before and really feels bland for most of the film. There are moments of muted joy towards the end and it does wrap up nicely, and even briefly feels like an enjoyable film, but that comes all too little and too late. Hopefully Hallie Myers-Shyer follows up Home Again with more growth and maybe gains an understanding of the rom-com genre and how to make them better.
Want to see Home Again and judge for yourself? Click on the images below to buy your tickets now, and be sure to come back and tell us what you thought!
Home Again runs 1 hour 37 minutes and is rated PG-13 for some thematic and sexual material.