Can ‘Home Again’ save the romantic comedy?

Reese Witherspoon and Hallie Meyers-Shyer certainly give it a good go.
Reese Witherspoon in Home Again
[Photo: Black Bicycle Entertainment]

Home Again is either the lighthearted pick-me-up you need, or just the thing to prove every negative stereotype you have about rom-coms, depending on your disposition. The sugary sweet film can literally turn your frown upside down, if you're that type of person. If you're not, well, you should probably avoid this movie like the plague, because "Home Again" strives to do two very simple things: amuse and delight. It just doesn't have lofty artistic ambitions.

 

That’s in no way a bad thing. It just means that “Home Again” resembles a sitcom episode more than a feature length film, something that its 97-minute running time should suggest. But there’s one ace up the movie's sleeve: Reese Witherspoon.

 

“Home Again” doesn’t overly stretch Witherspoon’s talents as an actress, or push her to such extremes that you immediately feel the need to stand up and scream, ‘Bravo!’ She just looks really, really comfortable. That’s it. But as a result of being so relaxed and obviously happy in the role she finds the laughs, emotion and pathos that others wouldn’t even consider looking for. And it's just that kind of performance that can make you overlook everything else.

 

The reason why Reese Witherspoon looks so happy is that a character like Alice Kinney and a film like “Home Again” are hardly seen in cinemas any more. Alice, the main character, is 40 years old, recently separated and trying to reevaluate her life without screwing up her two young daughters. The movie itself is loud and proud about its rom-com credentials. Alice wants to embrace her newfound freedom, which, after a boozy night out, results in her inviting three aspiring, and broke, filmmakers into her guest house. She, of course, strikes up a fling with one. Once her ex-husband declares his love for her again, Alice finds herself caught between her past and her potential future.

 

“Home Again” is far from a smooth ride. Each of its plots feel much more suited to the small-screen than the big, and pretty much all of its jokes produce a polite chortle rather than riotous, knee-slapping laughter. The perpetual glow of Los Angeles, its pin-point, pristine set designs and adulation for all things cinema, as well as the positivity of Nat Wolff, Pic Alexander and Jon Ridnitsky’s three aspiring filmmakers all make “Home Again” just, well, pleasant.

Yet, despite its obvious flaws, you still can’t help but feel warmed by it. It’s not strong enough to rejuvenate the stagnant rom-com genre, but "Home Again" will remind you why it's so important. 

 
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