In her latest rom-com “Home Again,” Reese Witherspoon takes theatergoers on an hour and a half joy ride through a divorce Neverland so unbelievable that if I hadn’t already divorced my husband, I might have filed that evening.
Recently separated from her husband Austen (Michael Sheen), a New York based music producer, Alice (Witherspoon) returns to Los Angeles with her two young daughters to pick up the pieces. While out celebrating her 40th birthday, Alice and a couple of friends meet three twenty-something-year-old aspiring filmmakers, Harry (Pico Alexander), Teddy (Nat Wolff), and George (Jon Rudnitsky), who the audience learns were recently evicted from their apartment. Following a night of partying, Alice wakes to find not only the three men asleep in her multi-million dollar home but Harry in her bed. Enter the next morning Alice’s meddling mother (Candace Bergen), who is also the former wife of the famed movie director father from whom Alice inherited said home. Hearing of the guys’ state of homelessness, as any good busybody would, she invites them to stay in Alice’s guest house. So much for stranger danger, Mom.
After a half-hearted attempt to send the guys away, Alice resigns herself to a fate of having, as one of her friends points out to her later in the film, live in childcare, tech support, and sex. It was at that moment I looked around the theater for a sign-up sheet. Unfortunately, I didn’t see one coming my way, leaving me to question what I was doing wrong these past five years since my separation during which I have been juggling carpools, dealing with spotty Internet service, and managing a dating life that, at times, left a lot to be desired.
The script, written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of Nancy Meyers, who wrote the acclaimed divorce-themed films “It’s Complicated” and “Something’s Gotta Give,” only briefly alludes to the typical issues families face when Daddy suddenly no longer lives at home. So by the time Austen shows up on the scene looking to reconcile with his wife and reclaim his seat at dinner, I wasn’t as moved as perhaps I ought to have been and didn’t root for Alice to take him back. After all, what did he bring to the table that three Millennial guys could not? For me, the answer was unclear.
Alice emerges as an unrelatable caricature of the modern-day divorced woman.
Perhaps the more appropriate question would have been: “What does Alice now bring to the table that none of these men ever could?” By the time the credits rolled, I still was unable to offer an answer. I believe Alice would have shared the same challenge. With a gorgeous house waiting for her, no real urgency to start a career except for a dalliance in interior design amid a few small failures that present more like inconveniences than setbacks, and kids who are remarkably well-adjusted, Alice emerges as an unrelatable caricature of the modern-day divorced woman. She makes it look just a little too easy.
Although Meyers-Shyer captured much of the feel of her mother’s preceding films right down to the welcoming design of its set, motivating me to kick my weathered family room coffee table to the curb and purchase a new one just hours after leaving the theater, that is pretty much all the film inspired me to do. Except maybe plan my next birthday celebration. Who knows? Maybe I will get lucky, too. Something tells me, though, I will probably continue having to make my own luck. And tech appointments.
Header Photo credit: Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com
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