Although in recent years, Reese Witherspoon has taken on far more serious roles, with the likes of Wild and Inherent Vice on her resume, for me she will always be intrinsically linked to the romantic comedy genre. Be it her breakout roll in Election, or her turn in Legally Blonde, or the countless other assembly line comedies that she has featured in over the years. However, her newest romantic comedy, Home Again, is a slightly different proposition.
Home Again is the story of Alice Kinney, the daughter of revered director John Kinney. She returns to her childhood home in California with her two daughters after separating from her husband. As she adjusts to her new life, on a night out she meets aspiring filmmakers Harry, George and Teddy, and in the process almost sleeps with Harry. As the three men try to get funding for their film, Alice takes them in and lets them stay in her guest house, and soon they become almost like a new family. However, when her husband comes to try and win Alice back, things get complicated.
Describing Home Again as a romantic comedy might be somewhat inaccurate. There are of course tropes of the genre present in the story, and the on-again, off-again romance between Alice and Harry is very much a part of the plot. However the main thrust of the film is not always entirely clear, with the story shifting gears from focusing on the relationship between the leads, to the relationship between Alice and her ex-husband, and then the relationship between the three friends, as well as all of their relationships with Alice’s daughters. It’s a heart-warming story, but to call it a “rom-com” is doing a great disservice. Unfortunately in the end, this does leave the film feeling like a few loose ends have not been tied up, but that is the price you pay for choosing to make something smarter than your average romantic comedy.
I’ve not always been the biggest fan of Witherspoon, but she provides the heart of the film in Home Again. She is warm, relatable, and yet complicated. The three filmmakers, played by Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff and Jon Rudnitsky are all excellent, and they each play their role perfectly, as the love interest, the big brother figure to Alice’s daughters, and the best friend. However, for me the best performance comes from Michael Sheen as the out-of-shape, record-exec ex-husband who tries to win his family back despite having not changed at all. It really is a thing of beauty, and it’s nice to have Sheen back on our screens after his recent break.
All in all, Home Again is a really enjoyable comedy about family, relationships, and the nature of kindness. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a film that chooses not to rely on the easy, cheap conventions of the genre it mostly resembles. A very enjoyable film.
EXTRAS: An Audio Commentary with writer/director Hallie Myers-Shyer and producer Nancy Myers, but nothing else, disappointingly.