‘Home Again’ car­ries on the Mey­ers mys­tique

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - MOVIES - BY KATIE WALSH TRI­BUNE NEWS SER­VICE

The name “Mey­ers” has come to sig­nify a very spe­cific type of film in Hol­ly­wood — the shiny, gen­tle, com­fort­ing and as­pi­ra­tional ro­man­tic fam­ily come­dies that writer/di­rec­tor Nancy Mey­ers has per­fected (“Some­thing’s Gotta Give,” “The Hol­i­day,” “It’s Com­pli­cated”).

Her daugh­ter, Hal­lie Mey­ers- Shyer, keeps that legacy alive with her di­rec­to­rial de­but, “Home Again.” Call it nepo­tism, call it a legacy, or sim­ply call it the fam­ily busi­ness, which al­ways in­spires a sense of trust­wor­thi­ness, qual­ity and con­sis­tency.

The Mey­ers aes­thetic is strong in this film, with Nancy serv­ing as a pro­ducer on this mother- daugh­ter co- pro­duc­tion of a very spe­cific cin­e­matic prod­uct. Fea­tur­ing beloved ac­tresses on the other side of 40 en­shrined in sun- dap­pled kitchens as they fret over ro­man­tic foibles, a Mey­ers movie is the kind of do­mes­tic es­capism that feels like be­ing wrapped in a warm hug. And though “Home Again” clearly shares DNA with her mother’s work, the sharp screen­play, writ­ten by Mey­ers- Shyer, is mod­ern and sly, uni­ver­sally re­lat­able and poignant at times.

Reese Wither­spoon stars as Alice, the daugh- ter of the late John Kin­ney, a revered ( fic­tional) ’70s film di­rec­tor and his ac­tress wife Lil­lian (Candice Ber­gen, who gets some of the best lines in the film). She’s re­cently sep­a­rated from her hus­band Austin ( Michael Sheen) and re­turned home to her dad’s pala­tial pad in LA with her two daugh­ters, try­ing to get steady on her feet. Be­fore she knows it, her world is rocked again with the ar­rival of three 20-some­thing men, newly ar­rived dream­ers look­ing to make it big in Hol­ly­wood. Thanks to the med­dling of her mom, she de­cides to let them stay awhile.

Un­ex­pect­edly, the pres­ence of Harry ( Pico Alexan­der), Teddy ( Nat Wolff ) and Ge­orge ( Jon Rud­nit­sky) is just what Alice needs to get her groove back. The guys, work­ing on their first big movie deal, turn out to be fan­tas­tic babysit­ters, home chefs, tech sup­port, even booty calls. How many house hus­bands does one wife need? Turns out three should cover it.

“Home Again” is pure fan­tasy, all softly lit, per­fectly styled, look­ing like the cover of Sun­set mag- azine. A world where a 40- year- old sin­gle mom is pur­sued by no fewer than four hand­some men. But within that fan­tasy is also a won­der­fully deft demon­stra­tion of fem­i­nine au­ton­omy in mat­ters of sex, love and mar­riage. Austin rep­re­sents the old way of life, where hus­bands claim own­er­ship of woman and chil­dren as prop­erty and step on their choices. The three young guys are evolved enough to be re­spect­ful, prac­ti­cally in awe, of fe­male in­de­pen­dence.

But this i sn’t a tale about a gag­gle of young Prince Charm­ings sweep­ing a princess off her feet. It’s a story of a woman mak­ing her own life, out of t he shadow of her fa­ther, her hus­band, or her houseguests, and do­ing it on her own — draw­ing her own bound­aries and lines in the sand, whether that means drunk­enly con­fronting her night­mare of a client (Lake Bell), or mak­ing it clear she won’t stand for flakey be­hav­ior from her younger paramour.

This world doesn’t quite ex­ist, but it’s an ex­ceed­ingly pleas­ant place to es­cape to for a cou­ple of hours. Thank good­ness the Mey­ers man­tle has been passed on to the next gen­er­a­tion. Mey­ers-Shyer may have got­ten it from her mama, but the point of view is all hers.

OPEN ROAD FILMS

Reese Wither­spoon in “Home Again.”

DAVE LON­GENDYKE/ GLOBE PHOTOS/ ZUMA PRESS/ TRI­BUNE NEWS SER­VICE

Hal­lie Mey­ers-Shyer, daugh­ter of writer/di­rec­tor Nancy Mey­ers, makes her own di­rec­to­rial de­but with “Home Again.”

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