Despite the forward thinking subject-matter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer fails to reach expectations with Home Again
Home Again is the debut film of Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of rom-com moguls Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer. Meyers and Shyer are the brains behind classic, much loved rom-coms such as The Holiday, The Parent Trap and It’s Complicated to name a few. They have created films which are often silly and frivolous but nonetheless enjoyable. However, it seems Meyers-Shyer has fallen short of this mark with Home Again.
Home Again follows the newly separated, forty-year-old Alice (Reese Witherspoon) on the aftermath of a raucous birthday night out. After a boozy celebration, she ends up with three, attractive, twenty-something budding filmmakers (one of whom takes a particular shining towards her) living in her palatial poolside guest house while they work on their latest project.
However, even Witherspoon, renowned for her roles in female-led rom coms (Legally Blonde), struggled to give meaning to the insincere and often cringe-worthy writing. This is not to say a film like this requires a beautiful, poetic script.
But what it does necessitate is well written lines which can act as the foundations on which the emotions of the characters, no matter how ridiculous and far-fetched they may be, can be conveyed with some sense of meaning and legitimacy. Instead, at the emotional climax of the film, audience members could be heard to be sighing or laughing, revealing just how greatly the script failed to deliver and consequently just how unbelievable the story appeared.
Obviously, by virtue of the nature of the genre of the film, a bit of fantasy and wish fulfilment can be forgiven. However, it desperately needs to be backed by lines and characters that have integrity and meaning, of which Home Again just didn’t have. This isn’t to say that the script didn’t deliver in other areas though; there were a number of witty lines perfectly displaying Witherspoon’s character’s sarcastic nature. Ultimately though, the script was lacking in the areas which are necessary create a long lasting and much-loved rom-com.
Yet, where the script was lacking, the subject matter certainly attempted to make up for it. One of the film’s main redeeming qualities is the relationship between Alice and her love interest, Harry (Pico Alexander). Alice has just turned forty, Harry is twenty-six and although their age difference is briefly noted in the script, it is not made into be a fetish of Harry’s or the case that Alice is a ‘cougar’. Harry just happens to be younger than Alice and that’s all that Meyers-Shyer makes of it. It is refreshing to see such a relationship portrayed on the big, Hollywood screen; a screen which often praises and idolises men for having far younger, prettier girlfriends but which chastises women for doing the same.
Having said this, although the subject matter did make amends for the film slightly, it wasn’t enough to carry the heavy weight of the second-rate script. Unfortunately for Meyers-Shyer, the odd witty line and feminist subject matter could only take her so far, leaving her far behind the mark her parents’ legacy has left.