For a while I thought maybe Hollywood had completely forgotten how to make a romantic comedy, and by that I mean the good old-fashioned kind where you walk out with a smile on your face even if it isn’t totally related to real life.
Nancy Meyers, a writer-director I have always admired for coming up with such gems in this genre as Something’s Gotta Give, The Intern, What Women Want, It’s Complicated and many she made in a partnership with ex-husband Charles Shyer (Father Of The Bride, Private Benjamin, Baby Boom), has produced not only a great new example of the endangered genre, but also its writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who happens to be her 29-year-old daughter and clearly a chip off the old block. As I say in my video review above, it is a tribute to Meyers and Shyer that their daughter has followed so successfully in their footsteps, creating a romantic comedy that is hilarious and heartfelt, smart and sexy, funny and clever, in which Reese Witherspoon is simply irresistible in a role she was born to play.
That role is Alice, a 40ish mother raising her two kids alone and returning to Los Angeles after splitting with her husband (Michael Sheen). On a wild night out on her birthday, she has a little too much to drink as she and her girlfriends essentially pick up three young aspiring filmmakers at a bar, and they all wind up back at Alice’s perfectly appointed house passed out all over the living room. When the sun comes up, so does a sense of the orderly life Alice lives and she attempts to erase the incident until her mother (a riotous Candice Bergen) shows up. Being charmed by these three guys herself, she persuades Alice to let them stay in the guest house while they attempt to get their film made in Hollywood. Those guys — played by Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff and Jon Rudnitzky — really add spice to this stew and each has been perfectly cast. Of course, things get complicated in Meyers-Shyer’s script, which never goes into the silly zone that so many modern rom-coms succumb to. This kind of confection is not easy to pull off, which is why good ones like the Meyers brand or something like The Proposal are so rare these days.
Of course none of it is particularly believable, which is probably the point — more like a fantasy where everyone is good looking and unexpected stuff just happens. That would be when Alice takes up with Harry (Alexander). It gets more complex when her husband comes back into the picture, but it isn’t a spoiler to say by the end you might agree this is the feel-good movie of 2017. And boy do we need it now.
Although Meyers-Shyer isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, she has reinvigorated a genre that critics love to hate but is welcome, as far as I am concerned — when filmmakers get it right. Fantasy? Sure, but if you want a little vacation from all the current ills of life, this is a world worth visiting. Open Road opens it Friday.
Do you plan to see Home Again? Let us know what you think.