Nancy Meyers-Shyer’s first romantic dramedy, “Home Again,” had all the pieces for a successful, feel-good movie, but ultimately missed the mark. The film has renowned actress Reese Witherspoon play Alice Kinney, a newly separated mother of an affluent family. Alice is transitioning from their New York life, back into her childhood home in the Rolling Hills of Los Angeles. Wasting no time, she befriends three charming young male filmmakers nearly half her age at a bar.
The four of them hit it off instantly, and after some manipulative smirks, Alice is coerced into letting the men stay in her Home & Garden worthy house. The men — Teddy (Nat Wolff), Harry (Pico Alexander) and George (Jon Rudnitsky) — all seem to develop a genuine bond with Alice and her two daughters (Lola Flanery and Eden Grace Redfield), while trying to find producers for their script.
The men become father figures to Alice’s two young daughters and create a tight bond as a misfit family of six. This bond is tested when Austen (Michael Sheen), the daughters’ real father and Alice’s soon-to-be ex-husband, comes back into the picture. Austen tries to win her back by attempting to sabotage the group’s unlikely friendship. After Harry and George both form crushes on Alice and her husband wants to fight for his marriage, Alice must decide between the three men.
It seems as though all these pieces must lead to fulfilling comedy with a balance of romance and playful humor, but that isn’t the case. The movie failed to reach a distinct plot and instead, dragged on with anti-climactic moments. Not only did it lack a climax, but it sadly also missed the mark on its subtle humor. For a movie that boasts itself as a comedy, the humor was few and far between. When it did appear, the jokes were flat and overused.
At first glance, Witherspoon’s lead role as an independent mother seemed a step towards women’s empowerment in film. But — like many parts of this film — it was left underdeveloped. She was quickly overpowered by the three young men and her jealous ex-husband, who rapidly stole Witherspoon’s spotlight. Although it was commendable that Alice decided she was better on her own, the movie built her as an object of infatuation and affection, rather than focusing on her life as independent person.
Without a plot, comedy or an uplifting story, this film leads the audience confused and disappointed. While the talent in the film seemed promising, viewers left the theatre with a bad taste in their mouths. They hoped to see a realistic representation of the modern woman, but were sorely disappointed instead.