In an era of wasted ideas, where everything in the world of romantic comedy seems tired and overdone, kudos goes to writer director Hallie Meyers-Shyer for the originality shining through in the plot of her film Home Again. This playful feature is the directorial debut for Meyers-Shyer, who is the daughter of romantic comedy hall-of-famer Nancy Meyers – famous for her intricate sets, washed in a background of royal blues, floral decals and high-cost boutique furniture, and her genuinely funny, heartwarming storylines.
Meyers-Shyer continues the trajectory of her mother’s style with Home Again, which stars Reese Witherspoon as the overly chatty and relatable Alice. The film follows Witherspoon as her character, a recently separated mother of two hyper-imaginative children, attempts to weave between the perils of motherhood (albeit the perils of being a financially comfortable mother in a gorgeous Hacienda style home which she inherited from her wealthy film-director father) and having a personal life. The story opens with Alice’s narration, explaining her father’s up-rise in Hollywood as the king of romantic comedies (perhaps a reference to the director’s own personal life?) who was often described as a “comic poet,” who had the unique ability to accurately portray the real “hold on to your hat kind of love” – a kind of love, she follows, “that was sure to fail.” These opening lines serve as a template for the rest of the plot, as it unfolds in an exciting, yet admittedly uncomfortable way.
On a wild night out to celebrate her fortieth birthday, Alice conveniently meets a near-perfect and handsome young man, Harry (Pico Alexander), who just happens to strike an irresistible fancy with Alice. After several drinks and dancing, Alice takes Harry and his band of twenty-something aspiring filmmakers back to her house for a nightcap. As the dawn breaks, like any devoted mother, Alice is awake and doing laundry, the laundry of the boy she took home. As the story continues, Harry and his two best friends move into Alice’s guest house and immediately mold into the fabric of the family. They become adorably involved in her daughter’s lives and while Harry and Alice continue their relationship, the story becomes much more about the complications of shifting family dynamics and the genuine love produced in families, even if that family now involves three strange young men.
While the chemistry between Witherspoon and Alexander seems to be fraught, Meyers-Shyer keeps focus on tight close-ups, rather than wide angle shots to fully contextualize each scene. The premise is nearly absurd, a truly unique story tied with the classic approach for all our favorite rom-coms. With the wit of the young men trio, and the heart brought forth by Witherspoon’s style of playing the mother, we get a decent and enjoyable film.