My problem with "Home Again" starts and ends with a man named Pico, but we will get to that later.
Remember the Nancy Meyers film, "Something's Gotta Give?" Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Keanu Reeves dancing around a love triangle with witty dialogue, great acting, and an easygoing feel came in just right.
Meyers' daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer doesn't have the same luck with her new film, "Home Again," which Nancy helped produce. Directing from her own script-which throws every romantic comedy cliche into the den-the young Meyers-Shyer doesn't present anything fresh and waste a talented lead in Reese Witherspoon.
The setup: Witherspoon is a recently separated mother of two daughters stuck in a severe mid-life crisis. Her late father was an Oscar-winning director and her mom (Candace Bergen) the star of many of his films, but Witherspoon's Alice isn't having the same luck in her own field of interior design, which sees her bossed around by needy rich women like Zoey (Lake Bell in a throwaway role).
Her luck seems to change when she meets three aspiring Hollywood types in Harry(Pico Alexander), Teddy(Zac Wolff), and George(Jon Rudnitsky) at a bar and through a series of events, the three young men move into the guest house of her large Los Angeles estate. Before too long, she is falling hard for the pretty boy, Harry, and developing bonds with the other two gents while dealing with a pending breakup with music producer Austen(Michael Sheen).
Bergen and Witherspoon put their talents to better use playing adversary types in "Sweet Home Alabama." Meyers-Shyer doesn't tread any new water and the movie isn't funny enough to match the admission price that theaters ask these days. If you see this movie for free, nod towards the sky and take one for the team. If you have to pay for this flick, develop a cold and get a cup of hot tea instead. Home Again is a Redbox rental.
The movie isn't without its strengths, but the biggest problem is Pico Alexander. He looks like a high schooler and can't hold his own with Witherspoon or even Wolff and Sheen. It's like sending a kid working on a play for his drama class to the wrong set. He leans so heavily on suave line readings that you want to punch him in his nose by the end of the film and then call his mom to come pick up. He drains the movie.
Rudnitsky is actually a delight in a character that we have seen a thousand times. The earnest soul with a kind heart who just wants to steer his friends in the right direction. His subplot with Alice's daughter is sweet yet overly familiar.
When Steen's ex shows up near the end to ruffle the feathers of a surreal living arrangement, the movie gets a little fuel for the finish, but in the end, it's just a been-there seen-that experience. "Something's Gotta Give" presented a more interesting love triangle, had crispier writing, and floated like a butterfly. "Sweet Home Alabama" was more well-rounded and had characters you cared for.
After four minutes of setup, the audience is supposed to care about a neglected yet rich, middle-aged woman with more than one guy being thrown her way? Please.
Witherspoon can't save this kind of amateur-hour theater and she deserves better.
While there are laughs in spurts and a few good moments, "Home Again" is another run of the mill romantic comedy with nothing new to say. Skip it.