Valentine’s Day weekends have always been a landing spot for the charming romantic comedy.

And while the genre has become all but eradicated from the big screen, streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu have countless offerings of boy-meets-girl, hijinks ensue until they fall madly in love films.

In a pre-pandemic world, there would simply be no reason that a rom-com led by Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher wouldn’t make at least $30 million opening weekend at the box office, but nowadays a movie like writer/director Aline Brosh McKenna’s Your Place or Mine has become consumed by the streaming machine, released this past weekend on Netflix with little fanfare.

The film’s premise implies a sort of You’ve Got Mail crossed with The Holiday narrative.

Best friends Peter and Debbie live on opposite coasts and talk every day, but their lives are changed when they swap homes for a week as she pursues a lifelong dream, and he volunteers to watch her awkward teenage son.

Witherspoon, a queen of the rom-com genre, is solid here as an independent single mom looking to fulfill her dreams while figuring out who she is in middle age. Because viewers – especially women – will connect with Debbie from fond memories of Witherspoon’s filmography, it’s easy to find Debbie as charmingly quirky and relatable.

Kutcher, more known for his lovable idiot characters, has a much more difficult task of portraying the constantly suave businessman that’s incredibly against type. His strongest moments, ironically, aren’t with Witherspoon at all, but with Wesley Kimmel as Debbie’s son Jack.

It’s clear that Peter – and Kutcher by proxy – has a genuine affection for Jack, but absolutely no concept of how to relate to an introverted teen. This should equate to easy laughs, but mostly comes off as wholesome kindness in a begrudgingly sweet way.

The film serves as McKenna’s directorial debut and how much she’s influenced by her favorite romantic comedies comes out on screen, but also McKenna’s inexperience in the director’s chair carries over in the uneven comedic tone and acting flaws.

McKenna borrows liberally from Nancy Meyers films in terms of production designs and lavish sets, although it’s often clear when green screens are being used to fill in the background outside Peter’s apartment.

Structurally, Your Place does a relatively good job of balancing between Debbie and Peter’s storylines though it often feels like two separate 45-minute television episodes mixed in with a crossover episode.

It isn’t just that Kutcher and Witherspoon lack on screen chemistry.

Your Place keeps them apart for so much of the film – holding things together with split screen phone calls – that it fundamentally doesn’t make sense how Debbie and Peter move from friendship to romance. It’s as if the two were on completely different movie shoots and only were paired in a half dozen scenes to connect disparate thoughts.

Looking just beyond the camera line without a scene partner to bounce things off of, Witherspoon and especially Kutcher have no ability to create dynamic chemistry. As a result, most of the early punchlines fall flat which sets an overall tone of blandness that makes jokes later in the film less likely to land.

Conceptually, Your Place or Mine has the strength to be an above-average romantic comedy, but it feels like McKenna is too overwhelmed behind the camera or too committed to her own screenplay to create a more relaxed, natural tone to her film.

Ultimately though, a film with so much promise and two solid rom-com leads at the heart should be better than “Your Place or Mine” actually is and easy access on Netflix will leave it buried at the bottom of cinephiles’ queue for years to come.

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