Home Again (2017)

  • Time: 97 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
  • Director: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
  • Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Lake Bell, Michael Sheen


Life for a single mom in Los Angeles takes an unexpected turn when she allows three young guys to move in with her.


  • I am a stickler when it comes to the formula for romantic comedies or rom/coms. In order to work there has to be a great love that builds until even the most jaded of audience members will see love on the screen. It has to build and build and suddenly break in a way that would seem irreparable but just before the movie ends it is repaired and everything works out. Home Again is absolutely a rom/com but writer/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer has given a little twist here and a little twist there that add up, by the end, to an unusual and refreshing take on rom/coms.
    I usually don’t like having the writer and director being the same person. Too much can be in their head and we can’t see it because we can’t look through that person’s eyes and understand the other stuff in that person’s brain. Meyers-Shyer has not done that. She has kept the story simple and doesn’t hide anything. There are a lot of angles in the story because everybody has their own thing but they also overlap creating a charming, funny, honest movie that will have you leaving the theater smiling.
    As a director she has used her writer’s economy but allowed the characters to speak for themselves. Much of the movie looks improvised but it covers the necessary bases with ease so a great deal had to go into the performances as well as the writing.
    Reese Witherspoon, as Alice, is great. I have to admit, she has this character type down but it makes what happens that much more of a twist because she doesn’t just phone in this character. She builds it from one frustrating move to the next. Michael Sheen plays Austen, the husband she has separated from and who wants to get back together. Again, not an acting stretch but it works. The last of the three big names is Candice Bergen playing Alice’s mother, Lillian. She is in the same boat with Witherspoon and Sheen. The real difference is you believe these characters. They’re not a rehash or an assembled mosaic of previous performances. They are the characters.
    The three guys who end up living in Alice’s guest house are Nat Wolff as Teddy, John Rudnitsky as George, and Pico Alexander as Harry. Wolff and Rudnitsky are more background but they are necessary to create believable reasons for what happens. Alexander’s Harry is one of the movers and shakers of the story and he plays off everyone else as if the whole movie were simply real life caught on film.
    Lola Flanery and Eden Grace Redfield as the sisters and seemed to have picked up the one weak spot in the film. They’re very funny and they work in the plot but they’re pretty much the kids, wiser-than-their-years, who seem to spend too much time delivering lines and jokes beyond their age.
    I give Home Again 5 screenplays out of 5. It’s a calm movie that is also funny and touching.

  • “Home again, home again, jiggety-jig”. Oops, wrong movie. I’m just talking about Home Again, the 2017 vehicle starring the justly adorable, Reese Witherspoon. In truth, if you like a romantic farce mixed with the ins and outs of making it in Hollyweird, then “Again” is the flick for you.

    Witherspoon stars as Alice Kinney. She’s a 40-year-old mother of two and has been recently separated from her record producer husband (Austen played by Michael Sheen). Kinney, the daughter of a famous movie director, moves back to Los Angeles to live in her father’s old house. One night, Alice goes out on the town and ends up partying with three aspiring filmmakers who are much younger than her. They all stagger back to her abode and she reluctantly plays the cougar role. She hooks up with one of them in 27-year-old Harry (played by Pico Alexander). All three gents find themselves living with Alice because they are broke and are waiting for their big, Hollywood break.

    So OK, I’m not gonna beat around the bush. Home Again feels like a been there, done that version of Something’s Gotta Give. You could also throw in elements of 2009’s It’s Complicated. It all makes sense. “Again’s” helm-er is Hallie Meyers-Shyer and she is the daughter of Nancy Meyers.

    Nancy as most of you know, is responsible for Something’s Gotta Give and that was a big box office hit. Meyers-Shyer is an admirable director but heck, she doesn’t want to be her own person here. She’d rather emulate her mother who happens to be one of Home Again’s multiple producers. The result is a sort of lightweight, situation comedy whose screenplay doesn’t always ring true. I mean, is Michael Sheen’s estranged husband really that bad of a guy? And does Pico Alexander’s Harry really deserve to be put out by Alice just because he missed one supper date? At times, “Again’s” pseudo love story kind of comes to fruition. During other times, it feels a little unfinished and hoax-like. Take for instance Home Again’s cutesy ending. It left me teetering on the edge of something. Of what I’m not quite sure.

    Now Home Again and Something’s Gotta Give have the same background music and the same happy happy stature. Basically, they are the cinematic equivalent of nurtured buttermilk. Both films also have scenes where people are always smiling, always laughing, and always having relaxing family dinners. I mean even when a character gets punched in the face (towards “Again’s” third act), there’s still a sense that everything is gonna be okay.

    In conclusion, Something’s Gotta Give excels in its emotional sequences between Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Home Again doesn’t quite reach that feat. Reese Witherspoon sort of resembles the Keaton trouper but she is not given enough script material to shine. Remember when Diane Keaton got nominated for an Oscar with “Give”? Well Witherspoon is definitely not gonna get to that plateau this time around. Bottom line: There are some feel- good moments within “Again” but it’s still a two and a half star rating for me.

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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  • Home Again marks the first feature film by writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, the daughter of two leading figures of the romantic comedy genre: directors Charles Shyer (Baby Boom, Father of the Bride) and Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give). It’s also a return to the genre for Reese Witherspoon, whose successes with Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama made her America’s Sweetheart in the early naughts. With all that behind it, Home Again should be a more than solid rom-com; instead it’s an anaemic but comforting effort.

    Witherspoon plays Alice Kinney, a newly separated single mother of two girls trying to get her life in order. About to hit the big 4-0, she and her daughters have moved into her father’s envy-inducing Los Angeles bungalow so that she can get her interior design business off the ground. Whilst celebrating her birthday with a couple of girlfriends, Alice is chatted up by charming 27-year-old aspiring director Harry (Pico Alexander), whom she ends up taking back to her place but whose drunkenness ends up with him passed out on her bed. Meanwhile, his actor brother Teddy (Nat Wolff) and their screenwriter friend George (Jon Rudnitsky) are sleeping off their hangovers on her couch.

    Flattered by their attention and learning that the trio have been kicked out of their apartment, Alice’s actress mother (a scene-stealing Candice Bergen, who is woefully underused) convinces her to let them stay in the guest house. The guys are delighted, especially George who is amazed to realise that Alice is the daughter of famous filmmaker and philanderer John Kinney. Alice’s life is soon complicated by keeping her affair with Harry hidden from her daughters, dealing with a ridiculously demanding client (Lake Bell), and the reappearance of musician husband Austen (Michael Sheen), who wants to win her back. We should all have her problems – as one character notes, Alice has free tech support via Teddy, a babysitter in George, and a sex buddy in the form of Harry.

    Romantic comedies thrive on the misunderstandings, obstacles and self-sabotage that congest the path to happily ever after. Home Again piles on multiple impediments, but they’re so easily overcome that they may as well not be barriers at all. Any apprehensions Alice may have about having her boy toy live under the same roof immediately dissipate. The girls bond instantly with all the boys and even the conflict Austen brings to the table barely registers. Witherspoon’s characteristically serrated sunniness has been smoothed over, leaving her with hardly anything to work with. It also may have been a mistake to have Alexander as her romantic interest when pairing her with the far more compelling Rudnitsky might have been better.

    Despite it being the cinematic equivalent of soft serve ice cream, Home Again is not without its charms. Everything is brightly lit and inviting, the actors appealing, and Meyers-Shyer certainly has inherited her mother’s predilection for privileged SoCal lifestyle porn if not her nimbleness with well-worn tropes.

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