I’ve loved Reese Witherspoon ever since she played Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (Robert Luketic, 2001). And I love her even more for the philanthropic work she does outside of her film career, which includes some impressive production work. But when it comes to Home Again (Hallie Meyers-Shyer, 2017), I can’t help but wonder whether she had a “blonde moment” when choosing this project.
What did I like about Home Again?
If there’s one thing the film succeeded at doing it was living up to its name. It instantly created a homely aesthetic from the outset by explicitly calling out the cosiness of the house, which is then reinforced by the three wannabe filmmakers who pick up on the softness of the white bedsheets. It also implied this warmth through elements of nostalgia, such as the unoccupied room stuffed full of old movie memorabilia and family photographs; and the outdoor picnic under the stars, as the family watch a black and white, classic Hollywood picture. In some ways, it was reminiscent of Gilmore Girls, a TV show whose opening credits are the epitome of nostalgia (sepia tones, family montages, sweet soundtrack). It really did drive home the idea of being Home Again, and it definitely made me a feel a little home sick on my way over to Washington D.C. from London.
What didn’t I like about Home Again?
Even though Home Again makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s a genre movie with all the plot devices and genre conventions one would expect it to have, I still struggled to suspend my disbelief. The idea of a single mother letting three complete strangers live in her house and look after her kids just seemed beyond ridiculous and unlikely, in my mind. One scene in particular, which really put the nail in the film’s coffin for me, was the end scene. The abundance of reaction shots as the extended family sit around the table smiling and laughing seemed almost like a parody. Suddenly everything in the film was resolved, despite the young girls having seen one of the young men sock her father in the face, without any reason or consequence. In trying to provide resolution and closure, the film completely lost the plot.
All in all, it was easy viewing that helped pass a couple of hours without having to think too hard. But I’m glad that I didn’t spend $10 to see it on the big screen.