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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Stereotypical romantic comedy lacks a heart and a brain

Home Again

Black Bicycle Entertainment

Hollywood is sabotaging the romantic comedy genre . It is full of possibility, but so often directors fall into the trap of cheap jokes and cliche romances. Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s newest work, “Home Again,” introduces the tangled life of Alice (Reese Witherspoon). Her journey is handled so sloppily that even the most die-hard rom-com fan might be turned off.

Following the separation from her too-old-to-be-a-party-boy husband (Michael Sheen), Alice has moved herself and her two daughters across the country to her childhood home in Los Angeles. Witherspoon’s character is first introduced crying in her bathroom on the morning of her 40th birthday. Despite this fact, she doesn’t draw too much sympathy as she begins to remake her life in the comfort of a sprawling estate alongside her witty children. She has her late father, an Oscar award–winning director, to thank for her luxurious abode.

The film delves deeper into her new life after a wild night out leaves Alice entangled in the arms of Harry (Pico Alexander), a 27-year-old aspiring director. In the meantime, Harry’s two friends George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) are passed out on her couch, soon to be nursing a hangover from the night before. There is no reason for Harry’s buddies to join the sleepover, unless it was simply to move along the plot. All of this comes to a head when April’s moviestar mother (Candice Bergen) develops an instant connection with the struggling boys, and insists they stay in the guest house. What follows is a less-than-interesting account of a family attempting to form, and love appearing out of thin air.

When it comes to the plot of the movie, or the point of its creation, there is little worth discussing. Following the most cliche of all rom-com formulas, this screwball comedy seems to take itself far too seriously for a 2017 film. The movie is filled with trite moments; It seems to beg for audible groans and cringing recoils as every situation is one viewers have seen in dozens of movies. There might have been a saving grace had the film taken the tone of David Wain’s “They Came Together.” Wain’s film capitalizes on the typical romantic comedy cliches by making wild exaggerations the central joke. Instead, “Home Again” blindly grabs for one-liners and clings to formulaic security.

However, there is really nothing to hang on to. There is nobody to root for in this movie. The upper class lifestyle of an attractive mom who is pursued by a trio of young men presents no compelling conflict.

This is in stark contrast to the work of Meyers-Shyer’s mother, Nancy Meyers. Meyers has created endearing and enduring films exploring relationships in films such as “Something’s Gotta Give” and “It’s Complicated.” The familial legacy proves too overwhelming for Meyers-Shyer to live up to.

A few minor characters provide the movie with moments of reprieve. Bergen’s role manages to deliver a consistently believable and entertaining character. It is truly a shame her screen time is limited to the first act. One of the most consistently impressive performances is given by Rudnitsky as George. His character might be the most multifaceted in the movie. George is torn between his loyalty to the trio and his desire for personal security and success when job opportunities arise. He also spends much of his screen time acting as a mentor and friend to Alice’s oldest daughter, Isabel (Lola Flanery). It doesn’t hurt that his comedic timing is far more pointed than almost any of his co-stars.

This is a time where mindless movies should provide a welcome distraction. Despite its effort, “Home Again” fails to make the grade. Instead of proving therapeutic, this stereotypical, surfacelevel picture feels like a waste of head space.