Home Again

October 18, 2017

Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

…throws so much charm and wit at you that you get lost in its relationships and utterly lovable characters.
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Home Again

Jessica Mansfield
Year: 2017
Rating: M
Director: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Cast:

Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Candace Bergen, Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, Jon Rudnitsky

Distributor: eOne
Released: October 19, 2017
Running Time: 97 minutes
Worth: $14.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…throws so much charm and wit at you that you get lost in its relationships and utterly lovable characters.

In romantic comedy land, anything can happen. Two complete strangers from opposite sides of the world decide to swap houses for two weeks? Sure, that’s normal. A selfish businessman and hooker with a heart of gold fall in love? Happens all the time. Rival bookstore owners fall in love on an online chatroom? That’s just par for the course.

So, when in Home Again, the directorial debut of Hallie Meyers-Shyer (yes, the daughter of rom-com queen Nancy Meyers), a woman lets three young, strange men move into her house after a wild night out, don’t be surprised.

Reese Witherspoon is Alice, a 40 year-old, recently separated mother of two who, after a romantic evening with younger man Harry (Pico Alexander), lets he and his two filmmaker friends (Jon Rudnitsky and Nat Wolff) live at her house as they try to make a name for themselves in Hollywood. So, it’s just as crazy as every other romantic comedy.

But once you get past how ridiculous the premise is (this woman is willing to let strange young men live with her daughters? And basically, inducts them into her family after one night? Um, what?), Home Again throws so much charm and wit at you that you get lost in its relationships and utterly lovable characters.

Witherspoon is as watchable as ever as she forges new relationships with Harry, George and Teddy, and the chemistry between the four of them is light and sweet as they figure out their changing lives together, all the while parenting Alice’s precocious daughters Isabel and Rosie (Lola Flanery and Eden Grace Redfield). And then, of course, we’ve got to have a bad guy, and Michael Sheen’s estranged ex-husband Austen is the perfect fit, devilishly charming yet definitely bad news.

Though not much happens throughout the film after the boys move in, not much really needs to: while Alice struggles to get her new interior design business off the ground, and Harry, George and Teddy attempt to get their acclaimed short film adapted in the Hollywood system, the more interesting part of this film is its interactions, the kinds of unlikely friendships that the Meyers women are so good at creating.

It’s a small slice of life, no matter how unlikely, that reminds you that movies don’t have to be an epic, fast-paced fight-fest to be a delightful afternoon at the movies.

Click here for nationwide movie time for Home Again

Comments

  1. Kelly

    While Mansfield found the movie charming and witty, I believe Home Again features unlikely relationships and does not engage with the move going audience. Meyers-Shyer stated that she wanted her movie to be a love letter to Los Angeles, but because of her inexperience from growing up in the privileged white backyard of her parents, she lacks a true representative of the diverse Los Angeles as it is seen through the average person’s eyes.
    It seems like the problem of Home Again stems from its ridiculous plot, which was a typical cliché overpowered by unrealistic, forced chemistry between actors. The movie starts with a classic textbook romance as 27 year old filmmaker experiences love at first sight after seeing a beautiful woman across a crowed bar. This introduction foreshadows a recipe for a short relationship, especially when Kinney is a 40-year-old mother. While Mansfield thought this meeting was “devilishly charming,” the attraction level between the two characters, Kinney and Harry, was lackluster. The absence of chemistry between experienced actor, Reese Witherspoon, and inexperienced actor, Pico Alexander, was evident through their onscreen relationship—their love scene seemed forced and childish, as if their lines were delivered without any emotion driving it. There seemed to be an absence of drive within the relationship as the movie plot showed apparent growth, but the characters on-screen gave a very static performance.
    In addition, not only did Meyers-Shyer cast newcomer actors, but she also decided to cast an entirely white cast. In an interview with Variety Magazine, Meyers-Shyer stated that she wanted her movie to be a love letter to Los Angeles, yet Meyers-Shyer does not reflect important aspects of LA, despite it being the 7th most diverse city in the world (Romero). Though Meyers-Shyer successfully created a movie that fits her viewpoint of Hollywood, her perfect, romanticized, and whitewashed movie does not attract a larger audience and greatly draws from the environment Meyers-Shyer grew up in. The recent diversity study done by UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies showed that TV shows with a diverse cast bring in larger audiences as people want to connect with the characters they see on-screen (Neely). While Meyers-Shyer was able to address the staggering fall in the number of woman directors working on domestic releases, she fails to address diversity and inclusion in casting (Lang). In Meyers-Shyer interview with Variety Magazine, she averts the interview question when asked whether casting an entirely white cast was a conscious choice and instead states that her cast was “small” (Kelley). In addition, she mentions that it is important to be “aware of [diverse casting] when you’re making movies,” which shows how hypocritical Meyers-Shyers is and how aware she was of her casting choices (Kelley). Meyers-Shyer neglects the diversity casting incentive initiated by SAG-AFTRA even after the resurgence of the “#OscarsSoWhite” after the announcement of the 2016 Oscars nominees. It is no question that Meyers-Shyer admittedly failed to diversify her cast. She was so enveloped in her white privileged lifestyle that she did not seem to take the initiative to introduce diversity into her own film. Especially since her movie was written as a love letter to Los Angeles, she fails to acknowledge the importance of diversity in the 7th most diverse city (Romero).
    Meyers-Shyer seems to be only showing Los Angeles she has come to know, living in the wealthy backyard of her producer mother and director father. Instead of being relatable, Home Again’s narrow-minded plot and trivial problems caused Meyers-Shyer to lose a wide audience and receive backlash from many critics, receiving only 31% on RottenTomatoes. Mansfield goes against the majority of the critics and praises the movie, but Home Again is enveloped in a bubble of the wealthy upper class and lacks the real world perspective that the audience can relate to, draining aspects of realism and revealing a screenplay immersed in shallowness.

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