Home Again, Reece Witherspoon’s most recent romantic comedy, and the film that was supposed to mark her return to the genre, falls flat in so many different ways. It’s a shame that the filmmakers didn’t recognize the problems the film had while in production. They might have been able to fix this train wreck.
What makes things worse is Home Again had a terrific premise. Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), daughter of famed director Jack Kinney, moves back home to Los Angeles after splitting from her record producer husband Austen Blume (Michael Sheen). After partying hard to celebrate her birthday, she plays host to a trio of men who’ve moved to LA to get a movie made. One of the men, Harry (Pico Alexander) catches her eye but things don’t go exactly as planned, especially as Austen shows up one evening with a suitcase in his hand.
This film would have been so much better had Alice fallen in love with the sensitive, writer of the trio, George instead of Harry. The chemistry between Witherspoon and Alexander was non-existent and, to be honest, George was the strongest of the three men. His character was intriguing, and I cared more about him than I cared about Harry. Harry was a cardboard cut out and Alexander wasn’t much better. He was easy on the eyes but his acting left little to be desired.
Witherspoon also lost her luster in this movie. I think a lot of comes down to just how awful the script is. With something good, like Legally Blonde, there’s no doubt that she can do great things. This, however, was not something good. In fact, it was cheesy and cliched in a way that romantic comedies have attempted to break from in recent years. The characters were bland, and the plot was flimsy.
Had Home Again decided to focus on the Jack Kinney angle, I think the film would’ve been much better. The movie opens with Alice narrating about her life growing up with her famous father and how he was such a big part of her life, but then the thread gets dropped. It’s only picked up again when George stumbles on Jack’s things, all packed up in boxes in one of Alice’s many empty rooms. She mentions she can’t get rid of the stuff, but that’s the last the audience hears about it. To me, it makes no sense.
The only, and I do mean only, saving grace of this film is Sheen as Austen. A part of me wishes that he had entered the film as a major player far earlier. Austen is in one scene in the very beginning of the film then comes in fully with about thirty minutes left of the film. There’s very little time for the audience to make assumptions about his character. We’re told he’s a manipulative asshole. What we’re shown is something different.
Sheen is charming as Austen and looks good in a pair of jeans and that’s about all the motivation I needed to finish this film. Had he not been a part of the cast, I might have turned the movie off halfway through. It was that boring and uninspired, but, again, Sheen made it worth it. He’s always charming and always acts his heart out despite the source material.