Friday, November 24, 2017
Things To Do

'Home Again' with Reese Witherspoon is so bad this critic walked out

RECOMMENDED READING


This week, I followed my instincts and evacuated during an evolving disaster.

I walked out of Home Again, Reese Witherspoon's embarrassing favor for a friend. Home Again is the screenwriting and directing debut of Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of filmmakers Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, whose combined successes range from Private Benjamin to Baby Boom to Something's Gotta Give. Meyers pushed the script on Witherspoon, an Oscar winner too nice to say no.

Thirty minutes of Home Again is enough to prove talent isn't hereditary. We already know alleged comedies that focus on how tough Hollywood lives can be are woefully unrelatable to anyone else. Meyers-Shyer writes flatly and directs without purpose, an unreasonable facsimile of her parents' fluff formulas.

Witherspoon plays Alice Kinney, daughter of a divorced filmmaking team bearing close resemblances to Meyers and Shyer. Her mother Lillian is played by Candice Bergen, which makes sense. Her father Austen is played by Michael Sheen, which doesn't since he wasn't born when Bergen was already a star and, in fact, is only seven years older than Witherspoon.

I mention this because Bergen and Sheen are the most authentic pieces in Meyers-Shyer's sputtering joke machine. Certainly not Witherspoon, consigned to eye-roll mugging and whines unbecoming an Oscar winner. Absolutely not the three young, aspiring filmmakers Lillian invites to move in with Alice while pitching their project around town. Because that's what Hollywood moms do when their egos are stroked by opportunists begging to hear more on-set memories.

In short order, Alice almost hooks up with one of her boarders, Harry (Pico Alexander, a mannequin in training). Reversing romantic age roles is a staple of Meyers' films that her daughter can't resist or perform nearly as well. Witherspoon is much too fine an actor to dither and sigh as Home Again requires her to do. Alice's two daughters, prop kids from central casting, don't stoke the actor's maternal warmth or the laughs Meyers-Shyer thinks they'll get.

Everything about Home Again until I could stand no more is trust fund narcissism in sitcom disguise. Striking out on her own creative course would make Meyers-Shyer's failure seem nobler but no less annoying. As it stands, Home Again would be a tolerable effort only on home video while outside a storm rages.

Then pray for a power outage.

Contact Steve Persall at spersall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments

Friday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballMissouri vs. St. John’s11 a.m.ESPNewsArkansas State at USFnoon820-AMVillanova vs. Northern IowanoonESPN2Wooden Legacy: St. Mary’s (Calif.) vs. Washington State1:30 p.m.ESPNewsTennessee vs. N.C. State2:30 p.m.ESPN2PK80: Portland...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Brian Setzer talks Christmas tours, Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and more

Brian Setzer talks Christmas tours, Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and more

Brian Setzer knows he's overdue for a trip to Florida.For 13 years, the Grammy-winning rockabilly guitarist and big-band frontman has been packing theaters coast to coast for his annual Christmas Rocks Tour. But somehow, he keeps skipping this area. ...
Published: 11/23/17
5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

1. Gem, Jewelry and Bead Show and Sale: Check out these rocks when more than 50 dealers from around the United States sell crystals, minerals, beads, gems and jewelry. $5. Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through ...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TodayCollege footballMississippi at Mississippi State7:30 p.m.ESPNCollege basketballMissouri vs. Long Beach State11:30 a.m.ESPN2Tennessee vs. Villanova12:30 p.m.ESPNSt. John’s vs. Oregon State2 p.m.ESPNUPortland vs. North Carolina2:30 p.m.ESPNNorth C...
Published: 11/22/17
What’s in theaters for Thanksgiving: ‘Coco,’ ‘Last Flag Flying,’ ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

What’s in theaters for Thanksgiving: ‘Coco,’ ‘Last Flag Flying,’ ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

NOW IN THEATERS:COCODisney-Pixar’s animated dramedy Coco (PG) is inspired by Mexico’s annual Dia de los Muertos, the "day of the dead" when departed ancestors are celebrated. Good for diversity, although the movie isn’t as good as its intentions.Migu...
Published: 11/22/17
Brian Setzer talks about Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and his third act with holiday music

Brian Setzer talks about Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and his third act with holiday music

Brian Setzer knows he’s overdue for a trip to Florida. For 13 years, the Grammy-winning rockabilly guitarist and big-band frontman has been packing theaters coast to coast for his annual Christmas Rocks Tour. But somehow, he keeps skipping this area....
Published: 11/22/17
Black Friday, Cyber Monday ticket deals in Tampa Bay: Amy Grant, Diana Krall, 98 Degrees and more

Black Friday, Cyber Monday ticket deals in Tampa Bay: Amy Grant, Diana Krall, 98 Degrees and more

This Black Friday weekend, you can head to your local shopping center and fight traffic to get the perfect gift. Or you can stay at home by your computer and give the gift of entertainment.A handful of Tampa Bay concert venues are offering ticket dea...
Published: 11/22/17
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Brian Setzer, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, 21 Savage, more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Brian Setzer, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, 21 Savage, more

SWINGIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE: Brian Setzer OrchestraWhen you spend 13 straight Thanksgivings on the road, you build some traditions with your crew. "We get a big ballroom," said Brian Setzer. "I don’t know how many turkeys we go through, but ev...
Published: 11/22/17
Some ways to celebrate Thanksgiving that aren’t Thanksgiving

Some ways to celebrate Thanksgiving that aren’t Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day!Or is it? Sometimes life just doesn’t come together at 2 p.m. on Thursday.Circumstances mean it’s not always possible to sit around the table on Thanksgiving, a family in a Publix ad smiling over a glistening bird. Maybe family is ou...
Published: 11/22/17
Watch the unseen footage in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ trailer

Watch the unseen footage in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ trailer

Can we all agree that John Hughes' Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the ultimate Thanksgiving movie? (And maybe actually his best movie of the '80s? Think about it.) And though I'm sure many of us will be watching it again this holiday weekend, when...
Published: 11/22/17