Home Again (2017)

“Since when is having three adorable guys hanging around such a bad thing?”

It can be so damn difficult to review an absolute mess of film like Home Again because it has almost nothing legitimately interesting or of value to reflect on. It’s the filler in your so-called 100% real white meat chicken nuggets. It’s that cheap $5 bottle of Trader Joe’s wine you stock up on. It’s a fancy casket that forgets to include a body or a dispossessed soul. This is a void that’s empty. Home Again doesn’t have a worthy human being to answer its door when we come knocking with rightful questions, and it’s a somewhat gross middle-aged female fantasy that moonlights and sells itself off as newfound hope. It’ll please those who expect nothing; they are the ones I suspect talked throughout my entire screening, more concerned with their own gossip than with this dull collection of dumb debris.

I’ve read many reliable critics who labeled this film as another exercise in oblivious White privilege. And you know what? They were right. Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon) lives a life full of self-created and manifested worry. It’s her 40th birthday so she cries in the bathroom alone. She’s recently separated yet undivorced from Austin (Michael Sheen), a music label’s talent agent who hasn’t grown up and is still living in New York. So she uproots and returns to her late famous filmmaker Father’s Los Angeles estate with their two girls. Her only problems are those that she magically renders from thin air. She’s not really working but can still afford a multi-million dollar home. One friend even assures Alice that, “maybe you’re just too good at too many things.” And after too many birthday drinks out at the bar, Alice brings home a much younger man to her bed and his two friends to her couch. This is the life of a disgraced debutante, not that of a grown or respectable woman. I’d have still been shaking my head had the sexes of the characters were flip-flopped.

This trio of cautiously likable yet overly sentimentalized late 20-somethings come across more as eager rip-offs of the Entourage crew and less as real people who care. They’re in L.A. to pursue Hollywood careers (aren’t they all?) and to make a deal for their well-received short film after festival rounds. Teddy (Nat Wolff) is the lead actor and a reactionary. Harry (Pico Alexander) is the snake-charming director who slithers his way into Alice’s sheets with his slight frame and incredibly smarmy pick-up lines. Then there’s George (Jon Rudnitsky), a screenwriter who might as well be the only believable character in this reality TV show of a film. Wolff is decent, but he still doesn’t have control over his visual presence or pitch. Alexander plays this bar hawk with equal amounts of intrigue, repulsion, and groping eyes that I assume most women will be woefully wooed by. Rudnitsky’s performance, while all over the place, at least has a semblance of the picture’s heart that’s been wheeled out to the curb for garbage collection. Witherspoon’s talent, on the other hand, can’t seem to keep a straight face as she squeezes out such phony excrement. Home Again is a hemorrhoid. Which is a telling symptom of a larger problem because when you notice it, you start to consider the underlying causes.

The trailer for Home Again might feel feminist and empowering, but Alice is quite literally the only grown woman in the script who has any sort of control over her surroundings. Her Mom (Candice Bergen) smiles and appreciates the affection from her acting days. Alice’s little daughters attach to the three of these castaways on a playful and entertainment based level. And most detrimental is Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s whitewashed dyspotia devoid of more than one POC in the picture (and those 10 seconds are very insulting in their light-hearted joking). I think that a lot of people – mostly middle-aged women who codify with ageist laws – will find Home Again to be agreeable at worst. That’s a problematic position because this film is basically 100 minutes of supposed real life anguish covered with the seriousness of check-out lane tabloid columns. Home Again will work for those afternoon and early wine-buzzed book club members who only read the online summary of the plot, and it’ll frustrate anyone who has the patience to look closer or the gall to dig for more of what’s actually real.

“At some point I have to start knowing better, and that point is now.”

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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