Nancy Meyers has been behind some of the most entertaining, popular romantic comedies of the 21st century, ranging from What Women Want to Something’s Gotta Give (while she also penned the screenplay to Father of the Bride back in 1991). Now the torch has been passed down to her daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, as he first-time writer/director presents Home Again. While remaining faithful to that same tenderness and warmth her family have brought to cinema, sometimes, it seems, mother knows best.
Following a break up with her husband Austen (Michael Sheen), single mum Alice (Reese Witherspoon) has moved to LA with her two daughters to start anew, wanting to pursue a career in interior styling. But before she knows it, she unwittingly agrees to allow three young filmmakers to stay at her home – which fascinates them greatly, for she’s the daughter of a revered Hollywood director. The boys, Teddy (Nat Wolff), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Harry (Pico Alexander) each become infatuated with their new landlord, particularly the latter, who starts to date Alice, despite her apprehensions. Though the situation becomes somewhat more complex, when Austen come back in the frame.
The one thing that truly prevents this film from entering in to turkey-territory is Witherspoon, who is such an affable performer, that means, at the very least, Alice is a character we can root for. She does test our patience, however, when she falls for the unbearably cheesy Harry, as it’s hard to see what she could find attractive about him. In fact, it’s hard to comprehend what she sees in any of her three lodgers, for they each overstep the boundaries and get far too caught up in her life. They all get annoyed when Austen comes back into the picture. But he’s the father of the two young girls – whereas these three opportunists have known Alice a week. Go figure.
It’s not a problem to dislike these three characters, but it does feel as though the film has been designed in such a way that we’re evidently supposed to find them endearing, and when we don’t get on board with this, it affects the narrative. This is emblematic of a feature that is just lacking so heavily in self-awareness, and while tender in parts, and warm in others, it’s just so horrendously mawkish it’s hard to get your head around in parts – and this is coming from a self-proclaimed, proudly uncynical critic. But this is even too much for me.