• by Wes Singleton

Home Again, C

Rated PG-13, 97 minutes

The likable yet stale new romantic comedy "Home Again" has a brave romance between a forty-something woman and a hunky twenty-something guy, but does such little with it that its subplots become far more interesting. Instead of being truly bold, it becomes too icky sweet and predictable, not to mention wasting such a terrific lead actress in Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon.

A recently separated mother of two named Alice (Witherspoon) starts a new life in Los Angeles, which is complicated by her decision to house three young, charismatic guys and burgeoning filmmakers (Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitsky and Nat Wolff).

"Home Again" is directed and written by Hallie Meyers-Shyer in her feature debut and another prime example of Hollywood nepotism at its worst; her mother is director (and producer of this film too), Nancy Meyers, who directed similarly-themed rom coms "It's Complicated" and "Something's Gotta Give," both of which has bigger flashes of boldness than the blandness on display here. If "Home Again" seems all-too familiar, it's probably because it takes its cues from mom Nancy's films and has trouble standing on its own feet.

I'm a huge Witherspoon fan from way back, and I'll say that her charm is on full display here as she rocks those Mom jeans though the part itself lacks any sort of mystery or seduction. This is a Mom who would probably rather clean and do laundry than carry on with a much-younger man, though she does do that, with the uber-bland Alexander, a little-known TV and stage actor who does little but pose and smile, often prettier than Reese.

Meyers-Shyers' inexperienced, slack direction and script are the chief reason the premise goes nowhere, to the point you'd rather spend time with the other two guys or with Alice's much more fun mother, the always witty Candice Bergen (who steals the few brief scenes she's in), whose idea it is to house the guys in the first place. The romance takes a back seat to the guys attempting to break into show business, which becomes more intriguing than the bland romance; the weak climax, involving a school play, really feels like the film petered out at the end.

"Home Again" is a likable piece of fluff that you'd expect at this time of year, and despite the fact it has Reese in it, this is one to skip for sure.

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