Filmmaker Nancy Meyers is unmatched at delivering a certain kind of cinematic cream puff: dewy dramedies in which smart, pretty people fight (but never too meanly), fall in love (they can’t help it!), and always seem to have just come back from the farmers market (could those snap peas be any sweeter?).
Or she was unmatched, at least, until now. Home Again is actually the product of her 30-year-old daughter, first-time writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, though it might take a film-studies degree and a DNA swab to ferret out the difference. Reese Witherspoon’s Alice Kinney is a classic Meyers heroine in nearly every way. A plucky, adorably neurotic blonde freshly separated from her self-absorbed record-executive husband (Michael Sheen), she’s just moved from New York into the sprawling Los Angeles home of her late father, a playboy auteur whose onscreen muses once included Alice’s mother (Candice Bergen). While drowning her 40th-birthday angst at a bar, she meets dreamboat Harry (Pico Alexander) and his friends (Nat Wolff and Jon Rudnitsky), three twentysomething musketeers with Hollywood aspirations of their own. It all ends in a group sleepover back at Alice’s (a chaste one, thanks to the last 17 tequilas). But by breakfast, she’s improbably agreed to let the recently homeless trio stay on in her guest cottage, just for a week or two. Within days they’ve formed a quasi-family with her two young daughters, and Alice is getting her groove back with Harry.
Enter the New York ex, a humiliating job tryout with a kimono’d socialite (Lake Bell), and a few more complications that will clearly be resolved by the fifth and final backyard dinner party. Witherspoon can easily carry an entire movie in her dimples, but it’s hard not to measure Alice against a role as richly written as her recent turn on Big Little Lies. Here, she’s mostly just a winsome proxy for midlife wish fulfillment — a bubbly brunch mimosa you drink up before the fizz is gone. B