Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen, Nat Wolff, Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitsky
Theaters all over the place September eight
Sure, there’s one thing to be stated for escapism. Not each film has to interact with the large problems with the day. Generally you’re extra within the temper for a cinematic soufflé than a dry-rubbed onscreen steak. All that being stated, nonetheless, in case your thought of battle is that three younger filmmakers’ brokers are getting them too a lot work, then your story may simply be a teensy bit tough to narrate to.
All that’s to say that the brand new Reese Witherspoon rom-com Residence Once more is constructed on presumptions of such staggering privilege and naiveté, it finally ends up coming by a lot of its comedy by accident. (“There shall be one other man,” one character says to a different, after blowing a gathering with a financier for a debut function from three unknowns.) Who amongst us has not handled the acute embarrassment of individuals fawning over your auteur director father and movie-star mom? Or the existential angst of not being taken severely as an inside decorator just because you haven’t any expertise past being a rich white girl with an affinity for throw pillows? Maybe it’s the common expertise of staying without cost in a sequence of well-appointed Hollywood properties. Does it actually have to be talked about that there are only a few individuals of colour on this film, and one in every of them is an Indian stereotype?
Supposedly, the movie’s most important, and most credulity-stretching, conceit actually occurred to an acquaintance of author/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer. If that’s the case, there’s nonetheless innocence on this world, and it lives north of Sundown. To wit: Alice (Witherspoon), a mom of two who’s moved again into the household manse in L.A. after separating from her music-industry husband Austen (Michael Sheen), meets a trio of fresh-faced, clean-cut younger filmmakers whereas out celebrating her 40th birthday with some gal friends. She takes essentially the most assured of them house, however the two fail to consummate their ardour after Alice’s younger suitor will get sick from an excessive amount of tequila.
This tweaks Alice’s maternal instincts, and so she decides to let Teddy (Nat Wolff), Harry (Pico Alexander), and George (Jon Rudnitsky), whom she simply met the day earlier than, keep in her visitor home for so long as they need. To be honest, the closest we get to menace from this bizarro Bible-study equal to the gang from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is a baggie of weed that falls from one of their pockets at one point. Still, letting a total stranger drive your daughter to her guitar lesson in your dad’s vintage muscle car is a level of trust that went out of style with hitchhiking. In this universe, though, everything works out fine, and the “guys” quickly bond with Alice’s predictably precocious, Zoloft commercial-quoting daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) while she’s out trying to impress her first and only design client, snotty socialite Zoey (Lake Bell).
How quickly, it’s not clear. There’s little to no sense of how much time passes between the time when the “guys” move in to Alice’s place, when Alice and Teddy start sleeping together for real, and when Austen returns, begging for his wife to take him back. If it’s a short time, that’s weird. If it’s a long time, that’s weird, too. The movie is oblivious to this, concentrating instead on Alice’s “you go, girl” emotional journey toward being complete without a man, monologues awkwardly barfed out at ostensibly clever speeds, mortifyingly overwrought reaction shots, and comments on the impressive thread count of Alice’s sheets. It’s like a vintage screwball comedy crossed with a Crate & Barrel catalog, shot in the product-focused manner of the latter.
That last part shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise: Meyers-Shyer is the daughter of Nancy Meyers, who’s listed as a producer on the project and who no doubt helped get it made. (Her father, filmmaker Charles Shyer, served as second unit director.) A certain filmmaking—and interior design—sensibility has clearly been passed down from mother to daughter, down to the shots of everyone gathered around the table for a family dinner at the end. Mumford & Sons-lite banjo muzak dominates the soundtrack.
The younger Meyers has a lot to learn about creating believable character motivations and relationships to anchor the aspirational fantasy. Even at a micro level, the script is full of bizarre, stilted phrasing (this may be the only time you’ll hear the phrase “bullshit artist!” outside of The Greasy Strangler) and out-of-touch stereotypes (if these up-and-comers are smart, they’ll let go of the idea that working with a “horror producer” is beneath them), all of which serve to heighten the essential falsehood of it all. Being born with a silver spoon in your mouth is no excuse for having a tin ear as well.