Home Again

 

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The clichés fly liked confetti in this bland, by-the-numbers sitcom.

   
Home Again

Blandlands: Reese Witherspoon with Pico Alexander

 

Deep beneath the caramel-baked shell of this awful sitcom lurks the germ for a chilling black comedy. Here, a single mother who has recently moved to LA finds herself both on the brink of middle-age and on the long, treacherous slope towards singlehood. Then, on the very evening of her fortieth birthday, Alice Kinney gets drunk with two girlfriends and three extremely eligible young strangers, and one thing leads to another. Harry (Pico Alexander), who’s in his twenties, takes Alice to bed, believing her to be much younger than she is. As she’s played by Reese Witherspoon, you can’t blame him. He’s also drawn to her beguiling attentiveness. “You should be a mom,” he compliments her. And, lo and behold, in the morning Alice’s two adorable daughters turn up with their gran (Candice Bergen) and all the beans spill out of the bag. Still, Harry and Alice have now exchanged bodily fluids and Harry is smitten and, as Alice has loads of mysterious disposable income, she invites the boys to stay in her luxurious guest house. And they really, really love her swanky sheets. As it happens, Harry, George and Teddy are embarking on their first film together and Alice is the daughter of a filmmaker (deceased) that they all idolize. Gosh, it’s all so cosy. Then George hits it off with Alice’s daughter Isabel (a winning Lola Flanery) and, in the words of one character, Alice finds herself with in-house childcare, tech support (Teddy’s a dab hand at web design) and sex. What’s not to like?

 

The grit in this congenial oyster proves to be a rather ineffectual plot device that wouldn’t pass muster on an episode of Friends. Reese Witherspoon, who’s proved her mettle with such hard-hitting dramas as Walk the Line, Rendition and Wild, hasn’t been this irritating since the shockingly dreadful Hot Pursuit two years ago. It’s not until Michael Sheen turns up as Alice’s estranged husband (complete with “cool” English accent) that one appreciates just how bland everybody else is, including Oscar nominee Candice Bergen. But even Michael Sheen cannot bring much credibility to the physical comedy chucked in as a final desperate measure, leaving one to ponder how this dross got financed in the first place. When Harry delivers a rousing speech about the merits of cinema to a stereotypically sleazy, brainless sitcom filmmaker, one wonders why the writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer didn’t take his advice.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen, Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitsky, Nat Wolff, Lola Flanery, Eden Grace Redfield, Lake Bell, Dolly Wells.

 

Dir Hallie Meyers-Shyer, Pro Nancy Meyers and Erika Olde, Screenplay Hallie Meyers-Shyer, Ph Dean Cundey, Pro Des Ellen Brill, Ed David Bilow, Music John Debney, Costumes Kate Brien Kitz.

 

Black Bicycle Entertainment-STX International.

96 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 29 September 2017. Cert. 12A.