A recently separated mother of two finds her life turned upside down when she allows three young men to move in with her after a one-night stand.
[Review contains spoilers.]
Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon) is hit with a double whammy when she turns 40 while still reeling from separating from her husband (Michael Sheen as Austen), who chooses to stay in New York while she heads back home to Los Angeles. To alleviate her depression, she decides to whoop it up with a wild night on the town and ends the evening in bed with Harry (Pico Alexander), a hottie she met at a bar. Too bad Harry got whiskey dick (spoiler alert!), but it doesn’t stop Alice from doing his laundry and making him breakfast the next morning. (Psst… Alice, we need to have a talk about self-esteem and a little something called “playing hard to get.”)
I think she’s found her amuse bouche! [Photo Credit]
So begins Home Again (I kept wanting to call the film Home Alone, which is a far superior title – and movie, for that matter), Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s directorial debut. You may recognize Hallie’s last names – her mother is Nancy Meyers of It’s Complicated/The Holiday/The Intern (and more) fame, and her father is Charles Shyer, who brought the world Father of the Bride. I’m not sure where Hallie went to school, but she’s obviously studied every nanosecond of her parent’s famous movies – sadly for worse, rather than better. A fresh take on the well-trod rom com genre could’ve been exciting – instead Meyers-Shyer seems intent on remaking a pastiche of her mother’s projects, down to the very last frame. Yawn.
But back to the “plot.” After Alice’s adventure, she finds additional houseguests, Harry’s roommates (Nat Wolff as Teddy and Jon Rudnitsky as George), passed out in her living room the next day. Just as an awkward conversation commences, Alice’s mother (Candice Bergen as Lillian) pops in with Alice’s children (Lola Flanery as Isabel and Eden Grace Redfield as Rosie) in tow. Instead of everyone running screaming from the room, a friendly chat takes place, ending with Lillian inviting Harry, Teddy, and George to move in with her daughter and grandchildren. This plot twist is about as believable as snow in July – yet here we are! The trio – aspiring filmmakers – find out that Lillian’s husband/Alice’s father was a revered and iconic Hollywood director. The guys ply Lillian with compliments and the next thing you know she’s handing over the keys to Alice’s mansion. Wow, flattery truly does get you everywhere – including Lillian’s daughter’s pants!
The look on your face when you think, “I’m an Oscar winner. What am I doing in this dreck?” [Photo Credit]
No fear of the Craigslist killer here! Alice doesn’t bat an eye at the thought of three strange men moving into her palatial estate, and the boys turn out to be nothing short of angels – because, you know, white people. Soon Alice is receiving tech support for her burgeoning interior design business from Teddy, free childcare from George, and hot sex from Harry (who recovers from his whiskey dick with aplomb). The scariest thing that happens is an after-party with wine bottles thrown in the garbage. Seriously, you motherfuckers have everything. Can you not even be bothered to recycle?
Things move along seamlessly, other than Alice’s rich bitch nightmare client Zoey (Lake Bell, providing one of the only sparks of comedy in the flick) giving her hell. And by hell I mean Zoey asks her to do a few menial tasks, which Alice balks at and considers beneath her station. (Alice has only just started her interior decorating business, but expects to only do the fun parts of the job. It must be a blast to work for entertainment instead of financial need!)
Alice and Harry move towards getting more serious, until he lets her down by choosing to stay at an important business meeting over showing up at a dinner party to meet her friends. Alice, who briefly finds her spine, tells Harry it’s over and the guys are forced to move out. Meanwhile, Alice’s husband is being driven crazy by jealousy and flies across the country to see her with the intention of getting back together. I guess checking in on his kids is a bonus?
And now, presented without irony, the Reese Witherspoon remix of, “Don’t you know who I am?”
One thing I found entertaining was the amount of quality cameos, including Jack Black, Catherine O’Hara, John Lithgow, Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Lily Tomlin, Leslie Mann, Ben Stiller, Lizzy Caplan, Nat Faxon, and Kevin Kline. Oh, wait – whoops! That’s the partial cast of Orange County, the movie I streamed when I got home to wipe the memory of this insipid slog from my brain. This 2002 comedy holds up surprisingly well – go watch that!
This flick is pretty damn fun! [Photo Credit]
Before we sign off, did I mention the one clip we get to see of the trio’s fledgling film is a scene of a white man stealing a black man’s pocket watch in an alley? What kind of Breitbart hell is this?! The film is awash in such white privilege; you’d think it was ripped from Steve Bannon’s diary. You just know he dreams of the bougainvillea trellises and 1,000 count thread sheets at Casa Kinney when he’s not on dates with the devil.
In closing, there’s a fistfight between one of the guys and Alice’s husband (where he punches her soon-to-be ex in the face on Alice’s behalf ‘cuz bitch apparently can’t take care of herself), a lengthy montage where everyone successfully moves on with their extraordinary lives, a realization on Alice’s part that she’d rather bang a 26-year old dude on the regular than reunite with her hard-partying music exec husband, a school play almost gone awry before Saint George saves the day, and a gorgeous dinner party where all the characters realize that everything in their perfectly perfect lives has happened for a reason and they’ve created a unique new family. The ending is a giant eye roll.
For a rom com, there’s surprisingly little romance or comedy. The irony that Meyers-Shyer made a film with a subplot about how hard it is to make it in Hollywood while simultaneously milking the teat of nepotism will be lost on no one. This trust funder’s screenplay should’ve stayed in the vault.
Home Again (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Alice feels sorry for herself.
Take a Drink: every time you wonder why Reese decided to follow up her stunning turn on Big Little Lies with this snooze-fest.
Take a Drink: every time you wonder about the sanity of a mother who would allow three 20-something male strangers to move into her home with her young children.
Take a Drink: every time Harry and Alice hook up. At least there’s one thing of interest!
Do a Shot: for every time you check your phone to see if the film is almost over.
You tell me. My patience had waned, so I’m not sure if there are any additional scenes of note.