‘Reese Witherspoon and Michael Sheen give blandly charming performances in an awkwardly directed fairy tale in which nobody behaves like an actual person. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful blond single mom named Alice (Reese Witherspoon), who lived in an exquisitely curated mansion in Los Angeles with her two lovely daughters. The daughter of a famous movie director, Alice doesn’t need to work (though she’d kinda like to be a decorator), but spends her time unloading Whole Foods bags, drying dishes that have already been through the dishwasher and sighing attractively.
For her 40th birthday, she receives a gift: three magical 20-something men — filmmakers, supposedly, or perhaps visitors from Planet Why Don’t I Live There — who promptly move into her guesthouse. All are handsome, well-groomed, appreciative of high-thread-count sheets and uncannily perceptive about life, but each has a special role. One is a computer whiz who attends to her tech needs; one provides enthusiastic free child care for the girls; and one takes up residence in Alice’s (gorgeous) bedroom. But wait until you hear about the kitchen tile. And about Alice’s not-quite-ex-husband (Michael Sheen), who keeps turning up in his shawl-collared cardigans to complicate things.
This, my friends, is “Home Again,” another sweet-natured fairy tale from the Nancy Meyers factory (“It’s Complicated,” “Something’s Gotta Give”), in which a (just barely) middle-aged woman finds all her problems solved. In the film’s only surprising twist, it’s not actually directed by Meyers (who produced), but by her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer. Suffice to say the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. Nobody’s behavior here resembles that of an actual person, and the directing is often awkward: A sudden close-up of a wastebasket, for example, seems to exist only to show us that, yes, it’s a very nice wastebasket. But Witherspoon and the rest of the cast are blandly charming (especially Sheen, though I kept wishing he would channel his “Twilight” vampire). And the real estate is, of course, to die for.
Movie Review ★★
‘Home Again,’ with Reese Witherspoon, Nat Wolff, Jon Rudnitsky, Pico Alexander, Lake Bell, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen. Written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some thematic and sexual material. Several theaters.
Watch HBO’s “Big Little Lies” if you want to see what Witherspoon’s truly capable of; watch this film for some turn-off-your-brain prettiness. Be prepared, however, to rethink all your kitchen choices afterward.
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