Produced by Nancy Meyers, who brought us beloved films including Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday, and The Intern, Home Again is filled with a talented ensemble cast including Michael Sheen (Midnight in Paris), Lake Bell (What Happens In Vegas), Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars), Pico Alexander (A Most Violent Year), Jon Rudnitsky ("Saturday Night Live") and Candice Bergen (Miss Congeniality).
Alice (Witherspoon), a recently separated mother of two, finds her life upended when three young, charismatic filmmakers move into her guest house. Alice's unlikely new family and a budding romance comes to a crashing halt when her ex-husband shows up, suitcase in hand. A story of love, friendship, and the families we create, Home Again is a modern romantic comedy with one very big life lesson: starting over is not for beginners!
In Home Again, Reese Witherspoon stars as Alice Kinney, the daughter of a late, Oscar-winning director (who is supposed to be modeled after John Cassavetes). Alice is a single mom living in Los Angeles with two young daughters and an ex (played by Michael Sheen) out in New York City. Her mom (played by Candice Bergen) is also still around, and is an ex-movie star, having appeared in many of Alice's father's films.
The movie opens on Alice's 40th birthday and, naturally, she's going through all the angst and self-reflection that many do upon hitting that milestone in their lives. She decides to go out on the town with a few of her girlfriends and runs into young, 27-year-old Harry (Pico Alexander), who immediately has goo-goo eyes for Alice, despite being 13 years his senior. Harry and his two friends, George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) are filmmakers and have been in talks that may result in their short film being turned into a feature. Alice, Harry, and their respective pals party late into the night and the result is the three guys winding up crashing at Alice's house. Alice and Harry come close to spending the night in bed together, but Harry is too drunk and winds up sleeping alone in Alice's bed while she makes a place for herself on a nearby chair.
After an encounter with Alice's mother in which the guys rave about what fans they are of her movies, it's decided that the male trio will be allowed to stay at Alice's house for the time being. A number of subplots ensue, but the main one (naturally) involves the "will they or won't they?" relationship between Alice and Harry. Things become a little more complex when Alice's husband arrives in town – hoping to win back his former wife.
Given the above set-up, you'd think Home Again would be ripe for a number of comedic scenarios. But that never happens. In fact, it's hard to figure out why this movie has been labeled as a "comedy" at all. Not only is it not funny, it's not like the script makes much of an effort to allow the actors to even attempt humor. Even approaching the movie as a straight drama, it's just not very interesting. The resolution of Alice's romantic triangle will no doubt leave viewers feeling as if they've wasted their time, and I'm guessing it will be difficult for many to even relate to many of these characters as they're all well-off (or potentially well-off) Hollywood industry types.
Written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer -- daughter of filmmakers Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers, who acted as one of the film's producers -- the movie feels like a self-reflective story with scenes and moments that only she and those close to her will find truly entertaining. For the rest of us, all we are left with is some attractive actors in attractive surroundings who find themselves in the middle of a very vacant screenplay. Sadly, this one's not worth your time.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Home Again sets up residence on home video with this Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack. The 50GB Blu-ray and dual-layer DVD are housed inside a standard Elite keepcase along with an insert containing a code for a digital copy of the movie. A slipcover with artwork matching that of the keepcase slick slides overtop. Both the DVD and the Blu-ray are front-loaded with trailers for I Do...Until I Don't, Brad's Status, and Mother's Day. The main menu features the same still of Reese Witherspoon that is featured on the box cover, with menu selections vertically down the left side of the screen in the typical Universal Blu-ray design.
The Blu-ray in this release is region-free.
Home Again was shot digitally on Arri Alexa equipment and is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. To date, I've seen a lot of Blu-ray transfers of movies that have been shot on the Arri, and this one delivers exactly what I would have expected: well-lit scenes (particularly those outdoors) are sharp and contain a lot of detail, while dimly lit sequences look a little flatter and have some noise creeping into the background (with black levels that rate as just average). Facial features are nicely defined with natural (and not over-saturated) skin tones that are consistent throughout.
Fortunately for this movie, the well-lit sequences far outweigh the dimly lit ones, and overall this is a pretty good transfer from Universal. I did notice a couple brief instances of aliasing during shots where the camera panned either left or right or vice versa, but those moments were few and far between. Of all the complaints I have about Home Again, the Blu-ray transfer is the bright spot of this release.
The featured audio here is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and it's pretty uneventful as lossless tracks go. That has less to do with the audio rendering on this Blu-ray than it does with the fact that the movie doesn't give the track many opportunities to show off. As you can probably already guess, Home Again is a dialogue-heavy film, so the only chance the audio has to impress is during the movie's influx of classic tunes (such as Johnny Mathis's "Misty").
There's little in the way of the surrounds being used for ambient noises, and any LFE use is all but non-existent. With all that in mind, there's also nothing technically wrong with the track. Dialogue is clear (albeit exclusively front and center) and there are no obvious glitches.
In addition to the lossless English track, a Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround track is also available. Subtitles are an option in English SDH, Spanish, and French.
Feature Commentary – The mother/daughter duo of Producer Nancy Meyers and Writer/Director Hallie Meyers-Shyer team up here to discuss the movie. After being disappointed with the film, I thought this commentary would give me a chance to find out what both were thinking in terms of plotting and what kind of story they were aiming for. Sadly, the two women spend most of their time talking about set design and cinematography – which actually may provide the answer to why the story here never quite works.
It's been a while since I've seen a movie as lifeless at Home Again. It's not that the actors aren't putting forth a good effort, it's that the script they've been handed is so pointless, you can almost see the look of "I can't wait to move on to my next project" in everyone's eyes. As for writer/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, she's going to need a lot more focus before she lives up to her parents' film legacy. Skip It.