If the RomCom is on life support, Home Again has come along to pull the plug. This bland, boring excuse for wasting Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon’s decided charms comes from a lineage that, depending on your opinion, is either perfect for such a project or the reason it fails so miserably. The name behind the lens and emblazoned on the script belongs to Hallie Meyers-Shyer. Her mother is Nancy Meyers, director of Something’s Got To Give, What Women Want, and It’s Complicated. Her dad is Charles Shyer, who brought Baby Boom and the two Father of the Bride films to life. Enough said, right?
On the other hand, that’s a resume that should guarantee at least some entertainment viability. After all, Meyers-Shyer isn’t out to compete in awards season. Instead, she just has to deliver 97 mins of love and laughs which make us feel all warm and fuzzy when it’s over. Unfortunately, one lesson she failed to learn from her parents is to have something unique to say. While their efforts did turn into retreads after a while, they were part of the revolution that made the RomCom such sound commercial fodder. Home Again does none of this. Instead, it just recycles and regurgitates concepts already beaten to death by other attempts at the genre–and it does so in incredibly uninteresting ways.
Our story centers on Alice (Witherspoon) who has to bring her toe-headed kids Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) to LA to live in her sprawling family home. Seems her late father was a famous filmmaker and left behind quite a legacy–and piece of property. The reason our plucky young Miss has to return to the roost is that she’s just broken up with her music exec husband (Michael Sheen) and Alice believes Mom (Candice Bergen) offers the kind of domestic sense and sensibility she needs to recover.
Aspiring director Harry (Pico Alexander), his aspiring actor brother Teddy (Nat Wolff) and their aspiring writer friend George (Jon Rudnitsky) also come to Tinsel Town looking for fame and fortune. What they find is a meet-cute with Alice, an invitation to bunk in the estate’s palatial pool house (it’s nicer that 99% of anything these guys could afford) and, as plot luck would have it, Alice and Harry hook up. George also has eyes for the older woman but, you know, this is a Meyers-Shyer production. Nothing complicated or icky here. Just the same old shimmer and sheen that made Mom and Dad bankable without any of their likeability or charm.
Indeed, part of the problem with Home Again is that, outside Alice, we have no empathy or compassion for these people. The three young men are obnoxious and self-centered to a fault, each one growing more and more irritating as the film fumbles along. And then there is the premise. Alice isn’t really supposed to end up with one of these idiots. The narrative is driven on the idea that, hopefully, she will wake from her puppy lust and realize that she’s an adult with responsibilities and can do much, much better. But Home Again doesn’t even get that part right. Instead, it meanders, missing so many opportunities that it seems like it’s doing so on purpose.
Besides–where the COM? Isn’t this supposed to be funny? Home Again is so slight and underdeveloped that even the occasional adlib seems to fall from the character’s mouths like a prisoner’s last breath. These are people, they are pawn, playthings for a little girl who has yet to learn what made Mommy and Daddy legacy sound enough to get her a pitch meeting. The RomCom is indeed DOA, and Home Again killed it.