Review / ‘Home Again’ (M) ***

IT grieves me to tell readers that the most appropriate short evaluation for this romantic, Hollywood-insider, little family movie is “vapid”.

Reese Witherspoon plays Alice, daughter of an Oscar-winning movie-director and his widow Lillian (the luminous Candice Bergen). With her two kids, Alice has fled New York from her marriage with Austen (Michael Sheen) to her family’s Hollywood home where she’s about to celebrate her 40th birthday with the girls at a booze-a-thon.

In the same bar are three young men feeling good about the success of their short film. Writer George (Jon Rudnitsky) and star Teddy (Nat Wolff) are wondering where to live after eviction from their motel. One look at Alice leaves director Harry (Pico Alexander) smitten beyond redemption.

Harry comes on to Alice. Lillian suggests that Alice invite the three to crash in the vacant guest house.

Alice’s sweet nature coupled with her inability to stand up and say “No!” when anybody asks her to do a menial favour, makes us yearn for her, having already demonstrated a measure of mettle by leaving Austen, now to stand up for herself. But no, writer/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer isn’t ready to let that happen yet.

Instead, she brings Austen to LA yearning to see his three women. Austen’s arrival is the film’s first real tense moment. Alice and Harry come home from eating out and are heading for the bed they’ve been sharing for several nights.

Alice breaks free of her complaisant mould when she learns that the first client of her new interior decorating business has also engaged somebody else to do the same job. But even when Alice, Austen, their kids, the three young men and Lillian gather at the dinner table to celebrate the play that the older daughter has written for the school drama festival, it’s a sweet moment on which to roll closing credits but, like I said at the beginning – vapid.

“Home Again” offers nothing unkind. But its lack of bite, while doing it no harm, does it no favours.

At all cinemas

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