I will defend Nancy Meyers films to anyone who throws overly critical judgement at them. Films like The Intern, The Holiday and It’s Complicated – amongst others – are fun, tightly made and emotional movies with their heart in the right place. So having her name attached to this film (but written and directed by first time filmmaker – and daughter – Hallie Meyers-Shyer) initially brought upon my interest. However, while the film isn’t aggressively bad in any way, the ho-hum script and the stock standard direction unfortunately wastes a great cast and trades bigger emotional beats for the easier sentimentality that a more seasoned director would avoid.
Reece Witherspoon – who is coming off a career best performance in Big Little Lies just a few months prior – plays Alice, a single mum of two daughters living in L.A who herself is the daughter of a famed Oscar winning director. After a birthday night out that involves stumbling into three young wannabe filmmakers (a Huey, Dewey and Louie combo if ever I saw one), led by young and confident Harry (Pico Alexander), the boys manage to find a way not just into her house but they manage to stay there as well as they await important Hollywood producer talks. While staying at the house, Harry and Alice manage to hit it off. He connects with the daughters as surrogate father, but actual father and ex-husband Austen (Michael Sheen) rocks up to shake up the idyllic set up.
The plot sounds like there are some great big decisions on past love versus new, but the film only manages to scratch the surface. Ex-husband Austen spends more time up against the other two guys, Teddy and George, than he does with the more important competition Harry, and the film can’t really decide who Austen is meant to be. To me, everyone is trying to make what they can with their characters, but it’s the usually phenomenal Michael Sheen who has the hardest job here. He doesn’t necessarily do anything untoward, and yet the film needs to position him as the hurdle to get to Harry. Since his character doesn’t get much to do, it seems like his character changes from scene to scene – and that’s never been something I noticed with Michael Sheen before.
This seems to be indicative of a greater problem with the film. It just seems overly simplistic and trivial. None of the big dramatic moments seem to have much weight, as the film seems to put all the dramatic tension on a final school play night. Considering that most of these new young characters have only known these people for a short amount of time, this doesn’t seem like the most important thing for them to worry about. It’s cute, sure, but I would rather the film put some more drama in earlier, maybe by making them put their own movie before Alice and the family. Maybe this could be remedied by the boys breaking a promise or something, but as it stands it just feels like something that happens because they needed a beat at the end, not because it was actually earned.
Home Again features performances by strong performers working with weaker material, and as such the film seems to drag its feet to the finish line. Hallie has an eye for pleasant framing and some of her dialogue crackles despite its banality, but it’s still a disappointing debut for this film maker. Despite those problems, the most glaring omission for this film was that the team set out to make a romantic comedy and yet it did all in its power to avoid the laughs. It seems to let down the only comical element that the film has, in that of the young boys living with a single woman, by doing next to nothing with it. Home Again is a light, puffy movie with next to no weight or originality in it’s delivery. On a rainy day it’s brief running time and family friendly appeal could be a fine time killer, but I’d be surprised if this was a trip home you’d ever make again.
Home Again: 40%
Thanks to Entertainment One for the chance to review this title. Home Again is available to buy on Digital now. Buy or Rent on Digital, Blu-ray & DVD Jan 24.
Check out the official eOne Home Again website here – https://www.eonehub.com.au/film/home-again/