Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Lake Bell
Director: Hallie Myers-Sheyer
Running Time: 97 mins
Home Again is an American film about a recently separated single mother who moves back to her home in Los Angeles, yet sees her life take an unexpected turn when she allows three young men to move in with her.
This film was a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, it’s got some great talent that make it an often genuinely entertaining watch, as well as an interesting story that, while not entirely unpredictable, has a bit more depth than you’d expect. On the other hand, however, there are performances that feel really rather wooden and unnatural, worsened by comedy that’s generally not all that effective, and increasing melodrama throughout.
Let’s start off on the bright side, because even though Home Again isn’t the world’s most enthralling film, there are positives here and there, the biggest of which comes from the lead performance from Reese Witherspoon. While I have to say that the majority of the acting in this film is fairly wooden – we’ll get onto that in a second – I found Witherspoon’s performance a very warm and genuine one that lit up the entire film from beginning to end.
Although it’s hardly her most impressive work – the likes of Walk The Line and Wild show her impressive range and ability in acting – there’s a very pleasing maturity to Witherspoon’s performance here that none of the other actors are able to bring about, and that means she’s a far more interesting character to follow throughout, and thanks to her classic charisma and bright on-screen personality, she’s an absolute joy to watch right the way through, bringing great energy and light to what could have otherwise been a far duller film.
Another rather unexpected plus comes in the form of the film’s story. Now, the truth is that Home Again isn’t any sort of emotional rollercoaster, nor is it a particularly unpredictable or unique film, but there is real heart to its story throughout, ranging from the portrayal of a middle-aged woman and single mother rediscovering herself, to that of the ambition and bright nature of a group of ambitious young men at the beginning of their journey to success.
I’ll admit it sounds a little cheesy when I put it like that, but the fact is that I was a lot more interested and moved by this story than I expected, and it keeps that heartwarming atmosphere up right the way through, something that really impressed me throughout.
However, there are still quite a few issues with this film that make it ultimately a rather disappointing watch. Above all, the rest of the performances aren’t that great. While Reese Witherspoon is wonderful in the lead role, her A-list supporting co-stars Michael Sheen and Lake Bell don’t put their normal talents on show this time, and the young trio of Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitsky and the already silver screen-proven Nat Wolff don’t do enough to make their characters shine, each coming off in a rather wooden and ungenuine manner that really clashes with Witherspoon’s sterling work.
Finally, while the story itself is actually better than you’d expect, there are quite a few elements of the screenplay that aren’t. Firstly, the film really isn’t as funny as it wants to be, and although you’re not meant to be busting a gut laughing at the film, most of its jokes fall flat throughout, with only a few sparking a mere smirk from time to time. Secondly, despite its generally heartwarming vibe, there is quite a lot frustrating melodrama that really takes away from the film’s more interesting elements, and particularly towards the end of the film, it’s difficult to really care about what’s going on, because it’s just so hyperbolic.
Overall, then, I wasn’t all that impressed by Home Again, but still pleasantly surprised by some of its positives. With a wonderful lead turn from Reese Witherspoon, as well as a heartwarming story, it can be an enjoyable watch at times, although its poor screenplay and generally underwhelming range of performances do hurt it more often than not, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.9.