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Let me preface this by say that I love movies, I'm not a movie snob by
any stretch. I particularly love Rom-Coms and have been disappointed
that they have fallen out of favor over the last decade or so. Some of
my favorite movies are cheesy Rom-Coms; Never Been Kissed, 13 Going on
30, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Holiday and even Ghost of
I saw this film as a pre-screener ahead of it's official release. Sometimes they pre-screen movies because they are great and want them to get buzz, sometimes they are really bad, and hope the audience falls in love before the critics get their hands on it. This is bad, really bad. Not just in story, but in acting, directing, editing score; you name it, it's bad. I love Reese Witherspoon and never thought I would see her phone in a performance but here it is. She doesn't so much as act as rolls her eyes and makes goofy faces; it's embarrassing to watch. There are so many cast members here that usually can do no wrong in my book; Candice Bergen, Lake Bell, Michael Sheen. They are given nothing to work with and Michael Sheen's character is nothing more than a cartoon. Nat Wolff is up and coming; I've seen him in a few things and think he's generally pretty good. Thanks to the very poor editing you can see him laughing in two scenes where he's clearly not supposed to be.
The whole film is just embarrassingly bad. You know the movie Mother's Day, how "bad" that is? It looks like an Oscar winning film compared to this. I looked up the movie after the screening, curious how it went so wrong. It's written and directed by Nancy Myer's daughter. Her daughter seems to have no credentials to be able to sell and direct a movie so my thought is that there were a lot of favors and strings pulled and it shows. I wouldn't even recommend watching this movie if you were sick in bed and it happened to pop up on TV.
Home Again is one of those movies that's easy to like and easy to
forget. It's amateurish, the characters are flat and one-dimensional
and the story is practically a celebration in vapidity and contrivance.
Despite this, there's not a mean bone in Home Again's body. There's
lightness to it. It's boring but charming in much the same way the
interior of a Pier 1 is.
Reese Witherspoon stars as Alice Kinney, a recently separated mother of two who has returned to her childhood home in California to start over. Her mother (Bergen) and deceased father were once considered Hollywood royalty; a fact that three young potential filmmakers (Wolff, Alexander, Rudnitsky) go positively gaga for when they meet her at a bar celebrating her 40th birthday. Blah, blah, blah the three end up moving into the guest house. The estranged husband (Sheen) shows up later making four and Reese Witherspoon tries to cobble together a life amid the chaos.
Did I say chaos, I meant unrealistically utopian equilibrium. Alice and her brother-husbands seem to have little scruples about living in a house together. This is in large part because they don't display any of the negative attributes of a regular human being. Stubbornness becomes selflessness and possessiveness is painted like enamored school boy crushes. Most of the external conflicts exist despite the setup and all the internal conflicts have the undemanding clarity of a children's storybook. To top it all off we're given the comparable setting of a 30's screwball comedy, vis a vis an expansive Hollywood villa, ensuring that the prime demographic will finally have a respite from the grave, emotionally challenging story arcs of The Gilmore Girls (2000-2007).
The movie takes its reverse Three's Company (1976-1984) setup exactly where you think it's going to go. At one point one of Alice's friend's muses that she has 24-hour childcare, tech support and sex all under one roof. Because the children are around, the dynamic stays as pallid and PG as it can, with focus being constantly siphoned off into unnecessary subplots. These subplots provide the few moments of character development for the three boys, but once they're living and interacting in Alice's quaint Spanish style abode, it becomes clear that the main reason for them being in this movie is to be a plot device.
This is where, if you read way too much into it like I did, you get to the good stuff. If viewed through a specific lens, Home Again could be seen as an examination of modern gender relations. At 40, Alice struggles with never truly finding the complete package a handsome man who can exhibit maturity, meet obligations, provide economic stability, and healthy emotional growth for her and her children while seeing Alice as an equal. This point is further highlighted by the fact that she idolizes her father despite him not exactly being a prize either. So instead of compromising she compartmentalizes. She fits the guys in this film into boxes of positive traits and for the most part, they fit them, at least until the plot deems this equilibrium is no longer stable.
Obviously this line of thought coaxes a lot of interesting questions about masculinity, femininity and modern relationships. But using this movie as a starting point for such a discussion is like reading Tarot through McDonalds Monopoly tokens. This movie isn't Antonia's Line (1995) it's Sweet Home Alabama (2002); which is to say a fluffy and forgettable piece of popular entertainment.
That said Home Again is not all that unpleasant to sit through, in large part because Witherspoon knows exactly how to move sugary confections like this. She proves effortlessly charming and despite some bad editing and awkward staging, Home Again glides on the power of her gossamer wings to give us a moderately entertaining distraction. See it if you must.
Greetings again from the darkness. Let's just get this out of the way
upfront. There is a proved and established market for mindless fluff
designed to allow women to laugh at the messes created by "real life"
relationships, careers, and parenting. In fact, first time
writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer is merely continuing the traditions
set by her bloodline. She is the daughter of filmmakers Nancy Meyers
and Charles Shyer who shared an Oscar screen writing nomination for
PRIVATE BENJAMIN (1980), and collaborated on other Romantic-Comedies
such as FATHER OF THE BRIDE (I and II), and BABY BOOM (1987). Rom- Coms
exist to bring some balance to the universe of Comic Book film
adaptations for fan boys. It is possible to have quality filmmaking on
no matter how rare it seems.
Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon stars as Alice Kinney. It's her 40th birthday, and she's a chipper lady recently separated from her music industry husband (Michael Sheen) and moved with their two daughters (Lola Flanery, Eden Grace Redfield) from New York to Los Angeles. Alice is in full "starting over" mode, including kicking off a new home decorating business. During a drunken birthday celebration with her friends, Alice hooks up with a younger man. The next morning, Alice's mom (Candice Bergen) invites Harry (the young man played by Pico Anderson) and his two buddies (Nat Wolff, Jon Rudnitsky - all 3 are budding filmmakers) to move into Alice's house. What follows is a maybe/maybe not romance between Harry and Alice, a bonding between the fellows and Alice's daughters, new business struggles for Alice, the sudden return to the scene of Alice's husband, and an endless stream of movie-making meetings for the 3 guys.
That's a recap of the story, but it doesn't address the real issue. For years, we have been hearing that the good-old-boy Hollywood network needed to back more female-centric projects: movies about women, movies directed by women, movies written by women, movies produced by women. Well this one has ALL of that, and yet I can only imagine the outrage if a man had written/directed/produced this exact film. Let's discuss.
Alice is positioned as a "brave" and "strong" woman for moving her kids across the country and starting over. What allows this woman to be so courageous? Well see, she is the daughter of a deceased filmmaker who had a successful career and left her a multi-million dollar California estate conveniently, one with a guest house for the three young men to live in. And who in their right mind, and with two young daughters, would invite three total strangers to move in especially the night after - even if one of them looks to be yanked right out of an Abercrombie ad? There is also Alice's interaction with her first client (played by Lake Bell). Despite despicable treatment from the rich lady, Alice doesn't stand her ground until yet another drunken bout of liquid courage occurs. The two daughters are smart and cute, but there is an obvious shortage of daily parenting happening here the daughters seem to show up only when a dose of precociousness is required. The scenes with Alice and her estranged husband are appropriately awkward, but the communication seems hokey at least until we witness true hokeyness in the cartoonish exchanges between the (now) four gentlemen. In fact, all male characters are written as cartoons, which we might view as "getting even" with the many times female characters were poorly written; however, since the female lead here is just as unreal, that theory doesn't hold.
The paint-by-numbers approach carries through as we check all the boxes: cute kids, a pet dog, apologetic ex, hunky new suitor, no financial hardships, loads of delightful dialogue, Ms. Witherspoon flashing more facial contortions than Jim Carrey at his peak, at least two cheesy musical montages, a mad dash to the kid's play/recital/game, and even the cherry on top a Carole King song at the end. In a year with so many wonderful female-centric films, this one is difficult to comprehend except that maybe, given who her parents are, perhaps Ms. Meyers-Shyer is actually the beneficiary of that good old boy network of which we've heard tell.
Not in the mood for scares this weekend? No problem, Hollywood has got
you non-horror movie goers covered with another romantic comedy. This
weekend, the legendary Reese Witherspoon stars in another Hallie
Meyers-Shyer work, in hopes of tickling your romantic fantasy on a less
risqué scale. Robbie K back again with another movie review on Home
Again. Will this film be another mundane addition to her lineup, or do
we perhaps have something special with this flick? Let's get started to
answer that question, shall we?
Charming/Cute: Like her works in the past, Meyers-Shyer has done a fantastic job building an adorable world/situation for our characters to play in. No major tension, violence, or heart- stopping shock moments, exist in this movie. Instead it is just a simple tale that will pull at your heartstrings while portraying those romantic morals many wish to see. Such a positive atmosphere certainly offsets the horror atmosphere of the other movie most likely to be in your theater.
Fun: With that positive atmosphere comes a fun movie, filled with small sequences that are wholesome, innocent, and surprisingly entertaining. Like a Hallmark Movie on steroids, Home Again takes on plenty of life lessons that are tested against the modern society trends today. Loyalty, romance, job work, responsibility, and child rearing are just some of the things you'll get in this movie. And while tasteful, and certainly predictable, the journey to addressing the obstructions in our character's life brings about some simplistic laughs, a plethora of smiles, and a few tears for whose hearts are warmed by Meyer-Shyer's writing.
Acting: Despite what some say, I found the acting okay and well-fitting given the environment of the movie. Witherspoon herself felt very natural in the role of a single mom looking to find herself again. She brought great energy to the film, all while keeping herself grounded amidst the chaos of all the relationships. The kids were an adorable addition, each playing their parts well to offset the romantic drama loaded into this film. I particular liked the older daughter story and how it integrated a different side of the guys to help solve a different problem. Speaking of the guys all three "eligible" bachelors were decent in playing their assigned roles, from younger brother bringing peace, to the stud that caught Reese's eyes. Of all them, Jon Rudnitsky was my favorite and the most dynamic of the characters being integrated into the film. A nice blend of comedy and drama, Jon's character kept the characters well integrated into the mix.
The short run time: A predictable tale like this can get old, fast. Fortunately, they had the foresight to cut this movie to the shorter end, telling the tale in enough details to get the job done. A plus on my side, though many may feel robbed of a full story they pine for given her past films.
Rushed elements: Despite the short time being a nice gift, Home Again's brisk pace leaves some key development scrounging for a rebound. So much potential to really give more layers to the movie, and perhaps get a few engaging story lines out of the mix would have been the better route. Especially when it came to the challenges at hand.
No major obstacle: Home Again felt like a movie with little struggle, few challenges, and in all honesty a lackluster tale all in all. It played a little too close to home and left me just milling about as the problems seemed to iron themselves away. With all the complicated relationships crammed into this tale, one would expect a little more resistance from the awkward shuffling this cast played. Even most Hallmark movies push back more than this film did before they get to that mushy-gushy ending that millions fall in love with. Perhaps a larger challenge might have made for more engaging characters and a feeling of accomplishment.
Characters: Sure they are charming, cute, admirable, and responsible in many ways, but I have to face the facts the characters are rather one dimensional. The actors did well with what they were given, but much of the movie's puppets were a bit boring to me. Much of my fellow audience members like their physical appearances the most, but this reviewer had difficulties attaching to them because of their stunted growth. Even Reese's character seemed a bit dull, caught in a whirlwind of indecision before suddenly flipping sides. Even worse, the characters (like the plot) were predictable, further dulling the film's entertainment value.
Little Candice Bergen: When you sell Murphy Brown in the trailers, I hope to get more of the spunky actress. Not the case, as Bergen is reduced to a few nugget lines of dialog that is lost in the "romantic" tide. Had she been integrated into the movie, I have no doubt the characters could have grown stronger with her pushing Reese's character to better herself.
While certainly cute, Home Again was a bit too simplistic for my tastes, missing the potential to be one of the better romantic comedies. A rushed story with limited character growth, no real obstacles to keep you engaged, and some missed comedic elements doesn't bode well for this predictable tale. However, it is still a fun, feel good movie that will do its job of entertaining target audiences with eye candy, simplistic laughs, and an overall warm your cardiac pump moment that will make you feel good at the end of the day. Not a bad feeling, but not worth the inflated movie ticket price.
Comedy/Drama/Romance: 6.0 Movie Overall: 5.5
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Where do I begin? The very first scene, with Reece Witherspoon crying
in the mirror because she's 40 is the perfect metaphor for this movie.
It's the story about a shallow family who bring 3 shallow men into
their home, and nothing changes. Nothing is better. Nothing is worse.
At the beginning of the movie, Reece's character is separated from her husband. They're getting a divorce, but he plans to move to L.A. to be near the kids. By the end of the movie, he lives in L.A. to be near the kids, and they're still getting a divorce.
At the beginning of the movie, the 3 pointless men are trying to get their movie made in L.A. By the end of the movie, they're still trying to get it made.
Between the beginning and the end of the movie, there are lots of scenes of white people, sitting around a table, eating food and drinking wine ... and laughing a lot. I mean, really. They laugh a lot. About what?, you may ask. I don't know. There's music playing over the conversations.
Okay. The main conflict? I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out what it was. I know there was a scene where Reece invites her boy-fling out to dinner the next night, and he tells her that he already has plans (a meeting with a producer to get funds for his movie), but he'll make it to her little dinner with her friends. Where, by the way, they sit around the table, drinking wine, eating, and laughing a lot. Except Reece, who is sighing and staring at the empty chair beside her ... or at her phone, where she's able to read up-to-the-minute text updates from boy-fling. "Hey, they just ordered more rounds." "Hey, sorry, this is going longer than expected." ... And the next morning, she's just so devastated that he didn't break away from his meeting with a Hollywood producer to attend her little laughing soiree that she just has to tearfully end it.
Apparently, there are also no people of color in L.A.. I was really surprised. I thought there would be some Latinos in the background, maybe a black person at the restaurant. No. No POCs. Except one scene in which a black guy brings the 3 bros a pizza and doesn't get tipped. Go figure.
The writing was terrible. The acting was so flat and uninspiring that I'm pretty sure someone's career will be ended by this movie. And in the end, I didn't even get to see any resolution to a story.
The only scene I could relate to was Reece crying in the mirror at the beginning. I kind of wanted to do that myself.
I was drawn to watch this movie as soon as I learned that it was written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, her parents wrote Baby Boom, Father of the Bride Part I and II and numerous other movies I have enjoyed in the past. I am someone who loves a light hearted romantic comedy or family movie and there haven't been many of these in the past decade so I thought I would check this out. I have to say I went in with no expectations and I was pleasantly surprised. It is a light, sweet, heart warming movie, it has the look and feel of some of the old 90's movies in my opinion (credit to Cinematographer Dean Cundey, Back to the Future, Apollo 13), and a nice story. The romance factor isn't really the central focus of the movie and it may give you an inspiring thought to do a kind deed for a friend or a child. If you want a movie you can escape a bit with, light, have a few laughs and walk out of with a little bit of heart warming feel, go see it. I know a lot of folk may not like this, if you prefer dark, edgy movies, or high action, crude comedies, or tragic stories etc this is not what you are looking for. There is no strong political message or underdog defying huge odds or anything to that effect. This isn't a movie that needs to be deeply analyzed, it's just a simple nice story and maybe it will put a smile on your face at the end like myself. If any of this sounds like it appeals to you please go see this movie. I hope it does well for the main fact that then possibly we may not have to wait another ten years for a movie like this to be made. We may not be the majority but I'm sure there still is an audience for these types of movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While many people attend movies for intellectual stimulation, and
consider a trip to the Cineplex the equivalent to attending an exhibit
in an art gallery, an equal number of people see movies as an agreeable
waste of time, an alternative to a jigsaw puzzle or the newspaper
If you're among the latter group of people, "Home Again" is the movie for youa pleasant-enough but trivial piece of fluff, as insubstantial as a helping of cotton candy.
In "Home Again," the privileged wife of a successful New York City record producer experiences a midlife crisis, separates from her hard-partying spouse, and moves with their two precocious daughters across the country to the Los Angeles estate she inherited from her late father, an Oscar-winning motion picture director. There, in a bar, she meets three struggling young filmmakers. And as a means of subsidizing the overburdened financial status of the young auteurs until their movie deal comes through, she invites then to move temporarily into her guesthouse. Naturally, she falls for one of them.
"Home Again" is the kind of movie which during the early 1960s would've been performed to perfection by Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Tony Randall. In "Home Again," the roles are filled by Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, and Pico Alexander, standing in for the classic trio of stars of "Pillow Talk," "Lover Come Back," and other classics of the early-sixties romantic comedy genre.
As such, "Home Again" often feels like a fairly decadent anachronism, one which seems as if it might've been financed on the familial heritage of its writer/director, Hallie Meyers-Shyer. Young Meyers-Shyer is the daughter of two experts of this once- lucrative style of motion pictureNancy Meyers, the director of "What Women Want" from 2000 and "Something's Gotta Give" from 2003, and Charles Shyer, the director of 1980's "Private Benjamin" and 1987's "Baby Boom."
Mother Nancy Meyers' name actually appears in the credits of "Home Again" as a producer, and the family connection is emphasized in the film's advertising, with the writer/director's name featured prominently on the poster-art, even though this is the 30-year-old director's first filmmaking effort.
"Home Again" is amusing enough, if you're in the mood for a superficial examination of the lives and worries of the veddy, veddy rich. The problems depicted in this movie seem almost to be like good ones to have, especially to those souls among us who have trouble getting together their rent and food money.
But for others, "Home Alone" is a reminder that in Hollywood, talent is not necessarily a hereditary commodity. And that in certain quarters, nepotism is often still a more desirable quality than actual artistic ability.
Home Again is the new Nancy Meyers produced Reese Witherspoon movie. It centers around Witherspoon's character, Alice. Alice is a single mother with two daughters who has separated from her husband and has moved back to California. She invites three young struggling male filmmakers to stay in her guesthouse, since they, at that time, have nowhere else to go. Alice gets romantically involved with one of those three men and then things get a bit complicated. Also, her husband she is separated from decides to pay a visit and things get even more complicated. I absolutely adore Nancy Meyers! She is one of the best in the industry in my opinion. So, I thought it was a pretty safe bet to say that I was going to have a positive reaction to this movie. Turns out, that was a safe bet, because I enjoyed home again very much. If you like romantic comedies, you'll love it. If you like sentimental dramas, then you will definitely enjoy it. And if you like the stars, then there's a good chance you'll like it too. The writing is good and the dialogue is very well written, this movie is all about the characters, and the writing enhances the connections between them. 8/10 for Home Again, it's a worthwhile sweet movie to enjoy if you're in the right mood for this kind of film.
Have you ever been to a high school play? Those kids and their director
work on it for a long time and they try really hard, but no matter what
they do, no high school play is going to compete for a Tony Award or
have Hollywood studios clamoring to make the play into a movie with The
Original Cast. If you're in the audience, you may enjoy some moments of
the play, but you'll often get distracted by what's wrong with it.
You'll surely notice some of the actors are more talented than others.
There will probably be a really pretty girl who seems to be in a lot of
plays and may even win some awards and she'll be acting opposite a
slightly older guy with fake gray in his hair, but they'll be acting
alongside guys and girls who don't quite manage to get genuine emotion
into their performances. And then there's the story. Whether the script
is good or not, in the hands of a bunch of high school students and a
director, who is probably fairly young and may be just starting out,
the play's action comes off as unrealistic and may make you roll your
eyes a few times or even laugh at the production (not laugh with it
laugh AT it). Well, you may have a similar set of experiences watching
the rom-com "Home Again" (PG-13, 1:37).
Alice Kinney (Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon) has come home. (She's already there when the movie begins, with no drama leading up to the actual homecoming as the movie's title seems to be implying.) She has moved from New York City, back to L.A. into the home of her late film director father and back in close contact with her former actress mother, Lillian Stewart (Golden Globe and Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Candice Bergen). Alice has brought her two daughters, insecure young teen Isabel (Lola Flanery) and the precocious little Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield), but Alice has left behind her music manager husband, Austen (Golden Globe nominee Michael Sheen). She considers herself separated from Austen and has decided to start another new career where she grew up. She freely admits that she was bad at photography and her other previous ventures, but now she thinks she can be an interior designer. She isn't hurting for money, but trying a new profession is part of trying to figure out her life.
Alice goes out with her old friends to celebrate her 40th birthday and makes some new friends some very young new friends who become very good friends. Alice's birthday celebration merges with the night out of three aspiring filmmakers who are celebrating getting a meeting with a producer who is interested in making their acclaimed short film into a feature. This trio of 20-somethings includes the tall, suave and handsome Harry (Pico Alexander), who is the director (and the group's leader), the hard-working screenwriter George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Harry's sensitive younger brother, Teddy (Nat Wolff), the actor. The party ends up back at Alice's where everyone passes out. The next morning, Lillian shows up with the girls after spending the night together, the guys are star struck and everyone bonds over breakfast. Lillian finds out that the guys just lost their apartment and suggests that Alice let them stay in her guesthouse. She's hesitant, but agrees. Before long, Alice strikes up a romance with Harry, George mentors Isabel in her school drama activities and Austen shows that he's not so sure his marriage to Alice is really over.
"Home Again" is a clichéd, unrealistic fantasy. Everything simply happens too easily for these characters and the plot resolutions that eventually arrive are not well-earned, dramatically speaking. Not only does the script indulge about every rom-com cliché in movie history, but it has the actors do and say things that just don't ring true, making it feel more like a fantasy film than a romantic comedy. Writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer (daughter of successful filmmaker Nancy Meyers) can be forgiven to an extent, this being her first film as writer or director, but having an Oscar winner say lines like, "I know this, because I know this," is simply unworthy of a major motion picture. Besides, the experienced cast members should've known better, while the younger cast should've done better (or been cast better). Most of the performances lack emotional depth and most of the relationships portrayed lack cinematic chemistry.
On the positive side, this film has a bland sweetness about it, there are moments of muted joy and the set-up is fairly creative, but the setting isn't relatable to most Movie Fans and it's hard to imagine anyone considering this a quality film. As for Meyers-Shyer, she was still in her 20s when she wrote and shot this movie. Hopefully, her follow-up efforts will show some professional growth. If not, I'm sure there's a high school somewhere that could use a drama director. As for Movie Fans who go to the trouble to go out and see this movie, afterwards, you'll be happy just to be Home Again. "D+"
I enjoyed the movie. Some people are writing reviews longer than the
movie. It was fun and lighthearted. If you want a break from reality
with out explosions this fits the bill.
The kids were interesting. I think the writer or director missed a great opportunity for the boys to be taken more seriously. Certainly plenty of opportunity to have a black character but none taken.
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