Home Again is a vacuous and inane movie that is otherwise an inoffensive and forgettable romantic comedy about characters who have no problems. It’s the kind of vacuousness that you would think even Hollywood would be tired of by now and yet there still seems to be an appetite for it. I think it’s called lifestyle porn, wherein the poor watch movies like Home Again and fantasize about the architecture and accoutrements without a care for whether or not the characters’ lives are worth enduring.
Home Again makes for fine lifestyle porn if not an actual movie. It’s all very pretty and pretty empty. The film stars Reese Witherspoon as the mother of two daughters who has just fled her marriage to a rock promoter in New York, played by Michael Sheen, for her late father’s home in Los Angeles. Her life is upended like a bad CW show when she has a near one night stand with a much younger man who her kooky mom (Candace Bergen) invites to live in her guest house along with his two pals.
The three guys are Harry (Pico Alexander), Teddy (Nat Wolff), and George (Jon Rudnitsky), three aspiring filmmakers. Harry is the impossibly handsome… director? Yeah, the super-handsome guy is the one who plays the director. I’m not saying directors can’t be handsome, but it was a curious choice in the casting here to take the relatively unknown but super-handsome Pico Alexander and cast him as the artistic visionary and have the much more well known and slightly less handsome Nat Wolff play the movie star.
Worse yet, Wolff has better chemistry with Reese Witherspoon than Alexander does and Alexander is the love interest. Oops. The three guys feel like just one character who was cut into three people via editing but that’s just the limited imagination of the screenwriter. The actors work well around that with Wolff and Jon Rudnitsky acting circles around the handsome but mostly empty Alexander who, if he seems to be missing something, it’s because his character was cut into three and all he got was the handsome part.
There is not one single unpredictable bit of Home Again, well aside from the few laughs it genuinely earned, that surprised me a little, but beyond that the predictability of the film is reminiscent of a perfectly working auto-pilot on a too long plane trip. The predictability of Home Again teams with the vacuousness of the idea to make the film feel worse than it actually is; the film isn’t very good but it’s not as bad as my worst nightmares of the film’s trailer which recalled horrendous memories of the last time Reese Witherspoon was in a movie with ‘Home’ in its title, Sweet Home Alabama, which remains a sore spot in my memory.
Home Again is not nearly that bad; the characters here might be inane but there is no active hatred for the intelligence of the audience as there was in Sweet Home Alabama. The makers of Sweet Home Alabama seemed to be acting out some kind of unstated grudge against the audience, an active disdain for our ability to understand the complexities of their artform; so they made a movie so insipid that it played as a parody of the audience they hoped to attract.
Like I was saying, Home Again is not that bad. The characters in Home Again are all well-intentioned and guileless. There is nothing biting or sarcastic, just the simple presentation of an empty premise with just a couple laughs. Home Again does not hold its audience in contempt the way Sweet Home Alabama did and that is arguably the nicest thing I can say about something that could have just been called Untitled Reese Witherspoon Comedy and not Home Again, thus inviting memories of Sweet Home Alabama for a still slightly traumatized critic!!!! But, that’s not this movie’s fault.