Once upon a time, there was a beautiful blond single mom named Alice (Reese Witherspoon), who lived in an exquisitely curated mansion in Los Angeles with her two lovely daughters. The daughter of a famous movie director, Alice doesn’t need to work (though she’d kinda like to be a decorator), but spends her time unloading Whole Foods bags, drying dishes that have already been through the dishwasher and sighing attractively.
For her 40th birthday, she receives a gift: three magical 20-something men — filmmakers, supposedly, or perhaps visitors from Planet Why Don’t I Live There — who promptly move into her guesthouse. All are handsome, well-groomed, appreciative of high-thread-count sheets and uncannily perceptive about life, but each has a special role. One is a computer whiz who attends to her tech needs; one provides enthusiastic free child care for the girls; and one takes up residence in Alice’s (gorgeous) bedroom. But wait until you hear about the kitchen tile. And about Alice’s not-quite-ex-husband (Michael Sheen), who keeps turning up in his shawl-collared cardigans to complicate things.
This, my friends, is “Home Again,” another sweet-natured fairy tale from the Nancy Meyers factory (“It’s Complicated,” “Something’s Gotta Give”), in which a (just barely) middle-aged woman finds all her problems solved. In the film’s only surprising twist, it’s not actually directed by Meyers (who produced), but by her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer. Suffice to say the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. Nobody’s behavior here resembles that of an actual person, and the directing is often awkward: A sudden close-up of a wastebasket, for example, seems to exist only to show us that, yes, it’s a very nice wastebasket. But Witherspoon and the rest of the cast are blandly charming (especially Sheen, though I kept wishing he would channel his “Twilight” vampire). And the real estate is, of course, to die for.
Watch HBO’s “Big Little Lies” if you want to see what Witherspoon’s truly capable of; watch this film for some turn-off-your-brain prettiness. Be prepared, however, to rethink all your kitchen choices afterward.
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