Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s first film neglects Reese Witherspoon’s talent.
Home Again is the directorial debut of Hallie Meyers-Shyer, scion of the Meyers-Shyer filmmaking couple (now divorced). Hallie even appears as a camper in the remake of The Parent Trap directed by her parents. Mother Nancy Meyers is known for her romantic comedies which often feature lust-worthy homes. Meyers’ name is prominent enough on marketing for her daughter’s new release that it might lead one to expect that Hallie’s film would be a cute, sweet romantic comedy like those from her mom. But another The Holiday, this is not.
Reese Witherspoon is Home Again’s lead, a separated mother named Alice who recently returned to Los Angeles and is convinced to take in three young (white male) filmmakers. She begins a fling with twentysomething Harry (Pico Alexander, A Most Violent Year) while starting a new interior design venture. Witherspoon could deftly handle as much story as she’s given, but Meyers-Shyer’s script chooses to sideline her character and give more time to the filmmaker trio — too much time, in this critic’s opinion.
Movies about movies are practically a staple in Hollywood, and Home Again sticks to formula. These plucky New York guys made a short film that hit at SXSW and come to L.A. broke and desperate for a movie deal that will keep the integrity of their original work. We’ve seen this storyline before, and we’ll likely see it again… the only novelty here is Candice Bergen as Alice’s mom, a former actress who tells her daughter to “be a patron of the arts” and take care of these guys. But there’s not even enough of her, either!
Home Again has oodles of montages and male posturing (Michael Sheen is featured as Alice’s husband who wants to get back together). The funniest bit of the movie is Alice’s blind date which devolves into an angry scolding of a client (hilariously played by Lake Bell) who has taken advantage of her services. Witherspoon gamely plays with Alice’s drunken loss of inhibitions. After that, there’s rare mention of her business and Alice goes back to reacting to other people’s actions.
There are momentary teases of depth: Alice hiding her sadness from her daughters, Witherspoon’s facial quirks making silent statements to the camera. If only the screenplay allowed more for the actress to do or a deeper dive into her role… that might have been a film I’d want to return to.
Is Home Again a romantic comedy? There are light romantic elements and enough situational humor to bring in laughs. The script is predictable and lacking a unique voice. Even with the promising entities involved in the production of Home Again, in the end it is missing qualities that would make it original or very memorable.
Home Again is currently in theaters.