Reese Witherspoon’s newest movie, the romantic comedy “Home Again,” is a soft pillow and warm blanket to wrap up in.
It doesn’t matter how well the pillow is made or if the blanket is itchy. Comfort is what counts.
Such is the case with “Home Again,” an overly familiar, safe romantic comedy in the vein of a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan vehicle, yet without any of the wit and charm.
It’s an incredibly easy film to enjoy in the moment, but somehow leaves viewers unsatisfied.
Something’s clearly missing, though it’s never quite clear if the extra oomph “Home Again” needed was left on the cutting room floor or out of the script entirely.
In typical rom-com fashion, the plot of “Home Again” is thin and unlikely. Witherspoon’s Alice is the daughter of a deceased Hollywood director and moves back into her father’s luxurious home with her two daughters after separating from her husband.
She stumbles across three young filmmakers trying to make a black-and-white (read: serious) movie, and as it always happens, the trio move in with her and her family.
Witherspoon plays the role with her usual breezy attitude, making Alice easy to get behind and root for despite never really knowing what went wrong with her marriage.
It’s not a flawless performance, but Witherspoon performs so effortlessly that any flaws in the character work don’t really seem to matter, a truism of most romantic comedies.
There isn’t much chemistry with Pico Alexander, who plays love interest Harry, or veteran character Michael Sheen as her estranged husband Austen for that matter.
It’s especially troubling for the usually superb Sheen, who plays the role as if he were simply reading lines off a script during rehearsal.
Alexander works hard as Harry in a role he clearly wants to go all out for, despite being hamstrung with filmmaking buddies Teddy (Nat Wolff) and George (Jon Rudnitsky) sharing screen-time and storylines.
Their work, in a perfect reflection of the film as a whole, is fine in a passed-the-test, C-minus sort of way, but nothing really moves the needle in one direction or another.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of “Home Again” is the downright criminal underutilization of Candace Bergen as Alice’s mother Lillian, who floats in and out of the picture at a whim despite being the most engaging, enjoyable character in the entire film.
Investing more time in Lillian, as well as Alice’s two young daughters, would have been much preferable to the self-indulgent, knowing diatribes about how movie studios manipulate young filmmakers.
Perhaps this is the right time to mention that writer/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer is a first-time filmmaker boosted by her director parents, including mother/producer Nancy Meyers of “Something’s Gotta Give” and “The Holiday” fame.
“Home Again” wraps itself up in such a tight little bow that it’s nearly impossible for viewers to relate to with an ending so sugary sweet that audiences may feel a toothache coming on.
It almost works better as an extended television pilot for a series that never received a full season order.
While clearly not on the same level as the vastly superior “The Big Sick,” there is a place for films like “Home Again” on the Hollywood landscape.
Audiences could do a lot worse than spending a casual 90-minutes with Reese Witherspoon in a romantic comedy, even when there’s not much romance to go around.