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Home / Instruments

Movie review: ‘Home Again’

By Giuseppe Mastrobuono

“Home Again” is a  lifestyle comedy set in present-day Los Angeles. Reese Witherspoon stars as Alice Kinney, the daughter of a late and famous Hollywood director. She is a mother of two who has just separated from her husband and relocated to Los Angeles from New York to settle in her childhood home.

While out on the town celebrating her 40th birthday with friends, Alice meets three young aspiring filmmakers Teddy, George, and Harry who are in need of a place to stay having been evicted from their apartment. Harry and Alice end up in bed on the night of her birthday and from there embark on a romantic relationship.

The three young men charm Alice’s mother Lillian Stewart(Candice Bergen) to the point that they are invited to take up residence in the guest house.

Director Meyers-Shyer examines the themes of separation and age differences and their effect on love relationships. In the first half of the film, the three young romantic heroes Teddy,George, and Harry seem to be too young and naive to make any significant impression. As the film progresses, however, each one establishes his presence and makes a unique contribution to Alice’s life, her family, and her mission to detach herself from her failed marriage and “start over”—-a phrase which is used  throughout the script. Although they are much younger than Alice, each in their late twenties, they possess a certain fresh awareness and empathy which enables them to connect with her. They transcend the age gap.

On the downside, the whole dynamic is almost too rosy to be believable. In today’s society, it doesn’t seem likely that a single mother with two preadolescent daughters would open her home to three young male strangers. In “Home Again”, however, it works like a dream and consequently detracts from its credibility as a  reality.

Michael Sheen’s performance as the estranged, emotionally absent husband serves as an effective comic relief and contrast to the idealistic young house guests. He tends to fail everywhere they flourish on the personal level.

International icon Candice Bergen assumes a secondary role in this one. She pops in occasionally to babysit and advise her soul-searching daughter as she transitions into her new life as a single mother.

Set primarily in the comfort of Alice’s lavish childhood ranch house, “Home Again” is pleasing to the eye. The setting of southern California with its lush gardens, exotic palm trees, Spanish-style architecture, and bright bougainvillea flowers draping over orange stucco walls creates a soothing and sensual ambiance. Inspirational music from artists such as the group Yes and Carole King add to the uplifting vibe of the film.

“Home Again” is what people often call a “feel good” movie. At the end of the movie, you are left feeling that life is positive and people are essentially good in spite of their imperfections and shortcomings. It is a fun and entertaining movie that gives hope for the survival of the romantic comedy.

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