Susan Granger’s review of “Home Again” (Open Road Pictures)
Nepotism has run rampant in Hollywood’s movie industry from the time of its inception, when dozens of relatives of moguls Carl Laemmle and Adolph Zukor were on the Universal and Paramount payrolls.
So writer/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer has a prime Hollywood pedigree as daughter of producer/director/writer Nancy Meyers (“The Intern,” “It’s Complicated”) and producer/director/writer Charles Shyer (“Baby Boom,” “Father of the Bride”).
Ms. Shyer launches her career with this character-driven romantic comedy, focusing on Alice (Reese Witherspoon), who has just separated from her workaholic Manhattan-based, music-producer husband Austen (Martin Sheen) and moved to Los Angeles, where her deceased Oscar-winning director/father left her a sprawling Spanish mansion.
As Alice is celebrating her 40th birthday, she’s picked up by 27 year-old Harry (Pico Alexander), an aspiring filmmaker who just happens to be looking for a place to live – with his ambitious moviemaking pals/partners: Teddy (Nat Wolff) and George (Jon Rudnitsky).
Flattered that the young men recognize her as a former cinema siren and charmed by their passion for films, Alice’s mother Lillian (Candice Bergen) suggests they bunk in the luxurious guest cottage. Convenient!
Plus, Alice’s adorably precocious young daughters – Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) – adore the blandly amiable, energetic guys who soon become intricately involved in their lives.
Soon Alice discovers that it’s nice to have millennials around the house, like having 24/7-computer tech service, live-in babysitters and sex with someone who’s 13 years younger.
Meanwhile in a silly subplot, Alice’s attempt to launch a new career as a freelance interior decorator is being torpedoed by Zoey (Lake Bell), an obnoxious, self-involved socialite.
Although there are contrivances galore and the less-than-compelling conflict could get lost in a cone of cotton candy, it’s a superficially amusing diversion, particularly when Reese Witherspoon and Candice Bergen display their adroit comic timing.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Home Again” is an implausibly sparkly 6, a fun chick-flick.