Run time: 1 hours 37 minutes
Stars: Candice Bergen, Michael Sheen, Reese Witherspoon
Director: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
If Reese Witherspoon's new romantic comedy Home Again feels familiar, it's with good reason. Director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, 30, is the daughter of romcom queen Nancy Meyers (Something's Gotta Give, It's Complicated) and Charles Shyer (Baby Boom, Father of the Bride), and she grew up on her parents' movie sets learning a thing or two about how to tell feel-good relationship tales as well as stage a fantastic set. In fact, with her mom acting as producer, Home Again has all of Meyers' signature high-gloss touches.
Witherspoon, 41, whose career is currently super hot (she's Emmy-nominated for Big Little Lies) plays Alice Kinney, a mother of two daughters who returns to her childhood home in Los Angeles determined to pull her life together. She is separated from her handsome husband (Michael Sheen) and has a 40th birthday to celebrate, which she does exuberantly, in the process meeting three charismatic filmmakers. She offers to let them temporarily stay in the guest house of her home, and ... it gets complicated. But what emerges from the chaos of 20-somethings taking up residence in her home is a sense of family, friendship and fun that Alice had long forgotten about — or given up on ever having.
Witherspoon is enchanting as a seemingly mixed-up mother, plagued by the insecurities that come with starting both a second career as an interior designer and a single life. Pico Alexander is all charm and sensitivity as a 27-year-old aspiring director who falls for Alice, but he understands the limits of a relationship with a soon-to-be divorced mother of two. Their older woman-younger man relationship becomes part of the story, but in a refreshing twist on convention there’s no apologizing for it.
Karen Ballard/Open Road Films
As the matriarch of this Hollywood clan, Candice Bergen, 71, plays Witherspoon’s supportive, but still tough, ex-actress mom. Bergen (whose character is based on indie actress Gena Rowlands, 87) is hot now, too, and stars with Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen in Book Club, out next year. As the mom in Home Again, she has her family’s best interests at heart but knows that sometimes the best lessons are learned from the relationship journeys we take — good and bad.
By the time Sheen returns to L.A. to make amends for putting his professional life ahead of his family life and is ready to commit to making his relationship a priority, Alice has found a sense of independence, happiness and hope as a single woman. Home Again is a personal and optimistic journey about coming to terms with life’s realities, as well as Alice’s emotional struggle to discover if what she thought she wanted is what she really needs. And even though there are a few corny and clichéd moments in the movie, the overall message is that there is life after love. Who can’t get behind that?
Karen Ballard/Open Road Films