BLACK BICYCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Alexandra Brunjes is a Hoya Staff Writer.

★★★☆☆

Despite its compelling premise and star-studded cast, director Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s upcoming “Home Again” is underdeveloped and likely to leave audiences frustrated. The first film Meyers-Shyer has written, “Home Again,” stars Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen and Candice Bergen. Meyers-Shyer worked alongside her mother, Producer Nancy Meyers, known for making romantic comedies like “Something’s Gotta Give,” “The Holiday” and, most recently, 2015’s “The Intern.” Although “Home Again” has a compelling plotline, the script’s attempts to be relatable and funny feel contrived and the film frustratingly glosses over the nuances of real human experience. Instead, it settles for a superficial depiction of its characters and their problems.

“Home Again,” set to release Friday, tells the story of recently separated Alice Kinney, played by Witherspoon, who has just moved from New York City to her childhood home of Los Angeles. As a single mother with two young daughters, Alice grapples with managing her cross-country move, her tumultuous relationship with her husband, played by Sheen, who is still in New York, and her attempts to launch a design business and attract clients. After excessive drinking and partying on the evening of her 40th birthday, Alice invites three broke, millennial filmmakers, played by Nat Wolff, Pico Alexander and Jon Rudnitsky, to move into her guesthouse.

What follows is a confusing tangle of new relationships and unsatisfying development of existing ones. Too many of the film’s major plot points are unrealistic in nature. The film often contradicts itself, portraying Alice as both a directionless, naive new girl in town as well as a budding socialite who is invited to all the hottest parties and dinners. Furthermore, Alice’s subsequent relationship with one of her young houseguests does not come across as believable, in part due to the characters’ significant age difference, but also as a result of a lack of chemistry among the actors.

Another area of frustration with “Home Again” is its tendency to overlook the nuances of human nature and relationships. The film consistently scratches only the surface of emotional experience and yet expects to find and convey depth.

“Home Again” begins with Alice’s charming and detailed narration of her childhood and her father’s presence in it; yet she does not reflect on it beyond the first few minutes of the film.

A captivating thread woven throughout the film is the symbolism of filmmaking: Alice’s father was a director, her eldest daughter likes to write screenplays, and the three broke, young men who move in with Alice are aspiring filmmakers. This motif is one of the most interesting and yet one of the least explored aspects of the film.

Alice’s older daughter forms a bond with George, played by Rudnitsky, over their shared passion for screenwriting, but the film does not take the opportunity to explore this relationship nor does it allow it to segue into meaningful discussions.

Arguably the best part of “Home Again” is the performance given by Wolff. His acting is realistic and relatable, unfortunately making the exaggerated nature of many of the other characters all the more apparent. His presence is also a reminder that good films need to be filled with truly human moments. Even Witherspoon, who is undoubtedly talented, seems to fall short of her potential in this film; her lines are often delivered in an overly dramatic fashion, and she does not connect with audiences emotionally. The result of this is a glossed-over film with very few poignant moments in its 97-minute run time.

The film does manage to succeed with its set, design and costumes. The Kinneys’ home is beautiful, the Los Angeles scenery is gorgeous and the characters are perfectly dressed for both the  setting and their own personalities.

The problems with “Home Again” boil down to the discrepancy between intention and execution. The script attempts to be relatable but ends up sounding cliche, lines meant to be funny fail to elicit laughs while serious lines land like punchlines. Moreover, many of the film’s characters are frustratingly one-dimensional, and the most interesting ideas to explore and develop are overlooked. For some audiences, the film’s stunning, romantic setting and sentimental, albeit unoriginal, moments could make for an enjoyable watch. Most viewers, however, will find that “Home Again” places emphasis in the wrong places and suffers from a less-than-exceptional script.

One Comment

  1. Very nice review!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*