Writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer is the daughter of Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers, who collaborated on hit comedies like Father of the Bride and Baby Boom. For better and worse, Meyers-Shyer’s work feels like a chip off the old block with her debut film Home Again.
A typically plucky Reese Witherspoon plays a mother recently separated from her husband (Michael Sheen). She has moved from New York to LA to live in her deceased filmmaker father’s enormous house. While celebrating her 40th birthday with friends at a bar, she meets an aspiring director (Pico Alexander) over 10 years her junior. Some romantic sparks fly and soon the director, his brother, and their friend have all moved into Witherspoon’s guest house.
Home Again is a piece of benign, escapist wish-fulfillment. It’s a big screen movie for people who like watching Hallmark Channel movies. That probably sounds patronizing, but it’s not intended to be. There’s a place for pleasant escapism in cinema, especially as prevailing trends favor bleak nihilism or gritty neo-realism. But that said, the film never really hits a gear beyond “pleasantly amusing.” The conflicts always feel low-stakes and its farcical elements elicit chuckles instead of laughs. But Meyers-Shyer at least has the sense to keep things short and sweet at 96 minutes.