Will this film finally put the rom-com out of its misery?

The format has been on the wane for years. Home Again could be its nadir

Home Again
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Director: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Cert: 12A
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Nat Wolff, Jon Rudnitsky, Pico Alexander, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen
Running Time: 1 hr 37 mins

Once upon a time there was a wonderful, magical genre in which boys-met-girls and they would fall in idealised love. The end.

But as time passed, hipper, jaded audiences suddenly realised that meet-cute wasn't so cute after all. Hey, reasoned more educated spoilsports: Andrew Lincoln is a stalker in Love, Actually. And, necrophilic undertones aside, isn't Sandra Bullock breaking some kind of law for the duration of While You Were Sleeping?

By the turn of the millennium, the rom-com was in last-minute-dash-to-the-airport crisis mode, a blur of desperate close-ups of Matthew McConaughey beach abs and two-for-one deals: come for Tom Hardy in This Means War, and get Chris Pine for free.

It was over. And no edgy miracle makeover – yeah, you, Trainwreck – was going to persuade us to kiss and make-up.


Enter Reese Witherspoon, an actor who did more to sustain (see Legally Blonde) and then kill the traditional romantic-comedy (see Legally Blonde 2) than STDs and Love, Actually combined.

Imagine happening upon a small, furry, mewling creature which, on close inspection, has neither a mouth, nor anus. That's the horror of watching Home Again. It's not that you don't feel desperate pity. It's just that you wonder if this isn't the abomination predicted in Mark, Chapter 13.

How can such a thing come into being?

To be fair, writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, the youngest daughter of genre veterans Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, It's Complicated) and Charles Shyer (Father of the Bride) is attempting to reinvent the wheel.

Her film casts Witherspoon as a divorced mom juggling an ill-defined interior design business, two adorable children, and the three hot guys who move into the pool house (huh?) at her ludicrously luxurious LA property. The lads, who are aspiring filmmakers, are as follows: the one who helps Reese with the kids (Jon Rudnitsky); the one who helps Reese with her problems (Nat Wolff); and the one who helps Reese in the bedroom (Pico Alexander).

Candice Bergen, playing granny, drops by. Michael Sheen, essaying shifty ex-husband, pops up. Lake Bell’s socialite looks in briefly.

There's a last-minute-dash-to-the-school-concert. Mostly, there's food. There are cocktails and shots and dinners and lunches and strawberries and oranges. Deep Throat seems comparatively less orally fixated.

It all amounts to precisely nothing. It’s not us, rom-com: it’s you.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic