Cup­cake-sweet rom­com de­liv­ers

Sunday Tribune - - FILM - FILM: Home Again STAR­RING: Reese Wither­spoon, Nat Wolff, Lake Bell DI­REC­TOR: Hal­lie Mey­ers-shyer RE­VIEWER: Mark Jenk­ins

REESE Wither­spoon’s lat­est star ve­hi­cle Home Again is pretty much a stan­dard wish-ful­fil­ment chick flick. But oh, what wishes. And oh, what ful­fil­ment.

The ever-perky ac­tress plays Alice, who just sep­a­rated from her hus­band and re­lo­cated from New York to Los An­ge­les with her two young daugh­ters.

Alice wants love, com­pan­ion­ship and suc­cess as an in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor, al­though she doesn’t ap­pear to be in any need of money. The kids, Is­abel (Lola Flan­ery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Red­field), also want love and com­pan­ion­ship, as well as to fit in at their new school.

Home Again is the fea­ture de­but of writer-di­rec­tor Hal­lie Mey­ers-shyer, the daugh­ter of film-maker Nancy Mey­ers (It’s Com­pli­cated, The In­tern). Mom, who has a pro­ducer role here, is clearly a ma­jor in­flu­ence. The pro­tag­o­nists in Mey­ers’s movies might be a cou­ple of decades older than the 40-year-old Alice, but the im­mac­u­late homes and gar­dens that star in the two women’s movies are in­ter­change­able.

Mey­ers-shyer’s mod­est in­no­va­tion is to tweak ro­man­tic­com­edy con­ven­tions so they en­com­pass the kids. Alice is courted by many men, but most of them are just as ea­ger to charm Is­abel and Rosie. Al­though the movie’s cli­mac­tic ges­ture is a rom­com sta­ple, here it’s meant not for Alice, but for one of her girls.

Is­abel and Rosie’s hap­pi­ness is the frost­ing on this cup­cake-sweet fa­ble, even if the movie does spend much more time with their mom.

While out with friends to cel­e­brate her birth­day, Alice be­friends three young men: Harry (Pico Alexan­der), Teddy (Nat Wolff) and Ge­orge (Jon Rud­nit­sky). They’re as­pir­ing film-mak­ers who can’t af­ford their shared mo­tel room and are in­stalled in Alice’s guest cot­tage.

At first, the guys are merely grate­ful, but soon they’re thrilled. They recog­nise Alice’s mother (Candice Ber­gen) as a for­mer movie star and re­alise that Alice’s late fa­ther is one of their favourite direc­tors. He made sexy, edgy films back in the 1970s.

Smooth-talk­ing Harry openly falls in love with Alice. So do Teddy and Ge­orge, al­beit more qui­etly. She doesn’t sleep with all three of them – this isn’t one of her dad’s movies – but she’s tight enough with them to trig­ger an ex­plo­sion when her es­tranged hus­band, Austen (Michael Sheen), ar­rives.

But with these younger men around, win­ning back Alice, Is­abel and Rosie is go­ing to be more chal­leng­ing than he an­tic­i­pated.

Not ev­ery­one in Home Again gets what they de­sire, but only sup­port­ing char­ac­ters lose out in this en­chanted tale of fam­ily bliss and ca­reer serendip­ity.

If her ca­reer as di­rec­tor doesn’t pan out, Mey­ers-shyer would make an ex­cel­lent fairy god­mother. – The Wash­ing­ton Post

Clock­wise, from left: Candice Ber­gen, Michael Sheen, Eden Grace Red­field, Nat Wolff, Reese Wither­spoon, Jon Rud­nit­sky, Lola Flan­ery and Pico Alexan­der.

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