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Film Review: Home Again

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A romantic-comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and produced by Nancy Myers seems like a recipe for success, right? Well, unfortunately, looks can be deceiving as proved in their newest film Home Again.

 

The film’s premise had a lot of potential. Three budding filmmakers move in with a recently separated, just-turned-forty-year-old mother as they attempt to climb up the Hollywood ladder. Throw in two young daughters, a returning ex and a famous father and what you get is the potential for a funny, emotive and exciting journey.

As a doyenne of the romantic-comedy genre, Reese Witherspoon, alongside a cast of stars both new and old, had the power to bring this fun and relatively original premise to life. Yet, despite her expertise, the film failed to live up to its potential.

Rather than being an exciting, new addition to the genre, Home Again lacks the drive and emotional impact expected in a film of this type. This isn’t entirely to do with the cast’s performances. It would be unfair to hold Witherspoon, or any other cast member, responsible for this issue but there is an undeniable wedge between the viewer and, what are supposed to be, highly relatable characters.

None of the performances are bad and it is refreshing to see a mixture of both familiar faces and new talent in this film but the characters themselves fall flat and their feelings ingenuine which resulted in said performances being hard to take seriously.

The main issue when it comes to the film’s characters is that they all seem to be picked from a list of archetypes. The recently separated mother, the pushy grandmother, the budding but broke filmmakers, the love interest and the old flame – all characters that audiences are highly familiar with. The film needed to take these characters in a new direction but instead simply followed the usual formula.

In this sense, the film is formulaically entertaining. It’s easy to watch and does have some funny, relatable scenes, especially those featuring Alice’s daughters who offer some witty and slick one-liners. However, this also results in the plot being overly predictable which only reduces its emotional impact as viewers can see events unfolding before the idea has even developed.

The whole makeup of the film has a lot of contradictions. Although it is highly predictable, it has no sense of direction and aimlessly drags its viewers from one scene to the next. Put simply, there is too much going on. At times it feels like the film itself has forgotten what it’s about as it tries to weave romance, family, work and play into its narrative but fails to sufficiently develop any of them.

It tries to fit as much of everyday life as possible into a short space of time even though many of these so-called ‘plot points’ are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. These disposable scenes only work in disturbing the flow and, whilst sometimes providing a quick laugh, trivialise the film’s message of growth, friendship and love.

Romantic-comedies are, for the most part, supposed to be a fun escape from the audience’s own life and to do this successfully viewers must be emotionally caught up in the ‘ride’. To give credit where due, the blossoming romance between Alice and Harry does do this quite well especially due to Alice’s inner confliction surrounding his age. On top of this, Pico Alexander has a natural charm about him and there was clear chemistry between his character and Witherspoon’s which does evoke an ‘I want what they’ve got’ type of response from its audience.

However, the abundance of other plot points paired with distracting cinematography and an overly dramatic score, do disturb this engagement in the long term.

Home Again had a fun premise and a fresh, new cast at its disposal but unfortunately ‘disposed’ of its potential through overly eager attempts to relate to its audience and a copious number of pointless carry-ons. At its core, Home Again is a feel-good film but ultimately lacks direction due to too many interweaving sub-plots making it neither  an offensively bad film nor a staple in the romantic-comedy genre.

Home Again is out now, distributed through STX International.

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