Reese Witherspoon is an award-winning actress that has managed to conquer the big screen and recently the small screen on HBO’s Big Little Lies. After experiencing the violent content of this television series and her recent dramatic turn in Wild, it is understandable why she might turn to voice overs (Sing) and rom-coms for her career path. She has shown comedic talents in Sweet Home Alabama and Legally Blonde, but can Home Again deliver the same romantic magic?
Her latest film is a story of a recently separated mother of two who decides to return to her childhood home in Los Angles to start over. Alice, who is played by Witherspoon is the daughter of recently deceased film director John Kinney and the very much alive actress Lillian Stewart (Candice Bergen). She tries to bring a certain level of normalcy for her daughters, despite the chaos of rebooting her life and confronting her past. As she adapts to life as a single mother and adjusts to living in California, the 40-year-old decides to have a wild night out on her birthday.
While out on the town with her friends, the middle-aged trio befriends a group of young, struggling filmmakers who need a place to stay. With the encouragement of her mother, Alice offers for this artistic threesome to stay in her guest house. This aspect of life is added to her life while she tries to raise her two young daughters, starts an interior design business and deals with the feelings she has for the young director that moved into her home. Then unexpectedly, the doorbell rings and her ex-husband shows up wanting to reconcile their marriage.
On face value the script from writer/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer cuts a fine line between being a rom-com and a potential suspense thriller. Home Again is meant to be a humorous, modern spin on romance, but fails to be either romantic or comedic and merely proves to be a life lesson on how a single mother of young daughters can make bad choices. Nothing within the dialogue or the characters seem to connect with the audience, and all it delivers is a continual feeling of unease. The thought of bringing three young strangers into your house and allowing them full access to the whole family borders on abuse or at least on exposing inept parenting skills. The fact that the plan for these new residents was encouraged by the grandmother shows that poor choices run in the family. This premise made it impossible to enjoy the whole viewing experience.
This angst manifested itself throughout the film and came out in the poor use of the stellar on-screen talent. Michael Sheen (Passengers) wastes away in the role of Alice’s estranged husband. His portrayal became utterly predictable and what was meant for laughs turn into a caricature of the negligent husband. Meyers-Shyer gives the same treatment to Lake Bell (Man Up) as Alice’s socialite employer, whose comedic talents wither on the vine as the dry and forgettable antagonist. Not to mention the three stooges who play the young film makers who seems to sleepwalk through the film. The treatment of these actors pales in comparison to Reese Witherspoon’s performance. Most actors cannot help the script that they are given, but there is no excuse for this Academy Award-winning actress having a part of this film. This career misstep may be an excuse for her to find a new agent to guide her career choices.
By having a mature mother going through a divorce, Home Again attempts to explore new territory for the romantic comedy. This originality cannot make up for the creep factor that is delivered by the premise of this poorly executed film.
Trailer for film
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
Home Again is the epitome of people making bad choices, which begs the question: how do you make good decisions? The issue of gaining wisdom can be sought out through the latest motivational speaker, great philosophers of the past or maybe someone who personifies good personal judgement in life. The only problem with all of these sources can be that even though they may be smart in one area, this does not mean that they always make the best choices.
That brings us back to the niggling issue of seeking wisdom. Can it be found in this life?
The first step is finding the source of all wisdom and who is the holder of these insights, the Bible says that the beginning of knowledge begins in the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 1:7) Which means the first place to go to for insights is to God, who gives out his wisdom freely to all who seek after him and listen.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
This revelation is a groundbreaking concept, that all knowledge and wisdom can be found in God of the Bible. It is there for the taking, but there is a catch. Belief.
To access this infinite pool of enlightenment and salvation, a person has to believe in the source. If you want to gain the wisdom of the universe, then you have to make your first ‘good choice.’ Believe in the God of the Bible.