Is there anything less relatable than rich white people whining about how hard they have it? Home Again, the debut feature from Hallie Meyers-Shyer, should be remembered, if at all, as a cautionary tale to the “write what you know” rule. Because if you happen to be the child of one of the blandest cinematic voices in Hollywood, you should always rebel. Hard. And I mean going full Béla Tarr. Try to be the next Gaspar Noé. You should be making sprawling, gorgeous, twisted new sights and sounds. Not this dreck. There’s no excuse for this.
Imagine you’re the daughter of a brilliant director and glamorous actress. You’re recently, finally separated from your boring, insensitive schlub of a husband, you just turned forty, and some hot young twenty-something wants to come spend the night. Nightmare, right? Sounds horrible? Such is the miserable fate of Alice (Reese Witherspoon), a character who not only finds a brand-new love interest plopped into her lap but another pair of grown doofus men who don’t mind putting up with her incredibly annoying children. She’s got three live-in babysitters! And they never want to leave because get a load of this: They just so happen to be aspiring filmmakers who worship her late father, the aforementioned director, and fawn over her mother, the glamorous actress. My point is: Alice is an idiot. These three guys are also idiots. They are, in fact, huge bozos. And here they all are, handing each other the world. So what’s the problem?
Nothing! There is no problem here. Every obstacle in Alice’s path is either so minor as to barely constitute a few lines of dialogue or practically nonexistent. Too many people think she’s great. Her mother (Candice Bergen, wasting her time here) is too supportive. Her dead father left her too many classic cars in the garage and too much space in the enormous house she lives in. Her estranged husband (Michael Sheen), whom she has no time for, is nowhere near her, off living the life of a hotshot record producer. Her only real antagonist is a wealthy socialite (Lake Bell, who does a great job, actually) who takes her for granted and won’t pay her for the work she’s done as her interior decorator but, true to the genre, Alice gets a showy, drunken scene where she tells her off in front of the snob’s friends. Poor Alice.
But Alice slouches and shrugs her way through the film. And in the end, she looks around and smiles. I have very little recollection, to be honest, of how she went from resenting to appreciating all these dim bulbs flickering around her house, so randomly and shoddily is the film constructed. Save for a sweet, simple montage set to “I’ve Seen All Good People” that opens the film, this is the most joyless ninety-five minutes you’re going to see all week.