Reese Witherspoon returns to the romantic comedy genre with this week’s new release Home Again. In the movie she plays Alice Kinney, a single mom who, of course, is just trying to keep everything together, including her young daughters. After moving back to L.A. she winds up meeting three aspiring filmmakers, all of whom just happen to need a place to crash.
Alice invites all three to move into her guest house. That’s enough of a complication in her life, before we even get to the romantic potential that’s unleashed by this new situation. Just as Alice is starting to figure things out, though, her ex-husband Austen (Michael Sheen) shows up and throws yet another monkey wrench in the machine.
Not much to the first poster, which just shows Witherspoon sitting on a ledge of some sort, her red dress matching the red background. “Starting over is not for beginners” the tagline reads before the audience is told the movie comes from producer Nancy Meyers, who’s apparently enough of an audience draw to warrant a call out like this.
The first trailer starts off introducing us to Alice as she deals with a big change in life. She’s kind of a mess as she’s finalizing a divorce, raising two kids and then deciding to bring in three young men as roommates in her home. We get the idea that she’s a bit impulsive and that this is all just kind of happening without a big plan.
Unfortunately that’s about it. There are some shots of Alice relating to her former husband and possibly getting involved with one (or more? it’s hard to tell these guys apart) of her new roommates. It’s just kind of a generic “woman acting out on a midlife crisis in a kooky way” without a lot of story or heart on display here.
We open in the second trailer as Alice is taking her kids to the first day of school in a new place. While she’s out celebrating her birthday with friends she’s hit on by a younger man, who she hooks up with. That leads to an awkward situation which gets weirder when her mother suggests two other guys start staying at her house, which leads to some tense moments with the husband she’s separated from. It’s a whole new dynamic as everyone figures out how to relate to one another, with Alice serving as the connective tissue between them all.
It still seems very…slight. Witherspoon is still charming here, of course, and we get a bit more clearly explained story, but not by much. It’s still ambiguous why all three guys, including the one she hooked up with, need to live at her house. It’s just being sold on the promise of a lighthearted and good-natured performance by Witherspoon in a story about a midlife crisis, nothing more.
Online and Social
The key art of Witherspoon is the primary visual on the landing page of the movie’s official website. The same copy is also there along with the links to the movie’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and (because this is a female-skewing movie) Pinterest.
Scroll down the page and you’ll find a collection of media broken up into “Videos,” “Photos” and “Social Posts,” all of which are just what they sound like, with trailers and commercials, stills and embedded social updates collected in each category.
Back at the top of the page, “About” has a Synopsis and the Cast & Crew details. That’s the only original content section there since “Photos” is the same collection seen previously and “Watch the Trailer” just bringing up the trailer.
Oddly, in the upper-right corner there’s a link touting Crate & Barrel as the official sweepstakes sponsor of the movie. But there’s no information on that sweeps on the movie’s site, nor is there anything readily apparent on C&B’s site. A quick search undercovers the site, which declares the sweeps is now closed because someone already one.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
A number of TV spots were released beginning a few weeks before the movie hit theaters. Some of them played up the more domestic aspects of the story, showing Alice loving her girls and making the best of the unusual situations. Others leaned a little more heavily into the wild behavior she engages in, particularly with the three guys who wind up living in her home.
Some social ads were run using the trailers, but that’s all I’m aware of. There’s also the Crate & Barrel sweepstakes sponsorship mentioned above.
Media and Publicity
In EW’s fall movie preview issue Witherspoon talked about not only this movie and its story – along with a few new photos – but also her impressions of the landscape of rom com movies as a whole. Later on at the premiere she was interviewed about being in the unique position of working with a mother/daughter team, with the rest of the cast chiming in about the production as well.
There was also a nice feature on director Hallie Meyers-Shyer that covered her Hollywood heritage, how the rom-com has shifted from being a mainstream stalwart to an indie genre and more.
It’s hard not to be drawn in by Witherspoon’s charm and self-assurance. That’s good because that’s primarily what the campaign is counting on to draw the audience in. The story is secondary here to her smile and the promise conveyed through every element of the campaign of seeing her back in the rom-com genre that initially catapulted her to stardom but from which she’s strayed (to great artistic success) in recent years.
Everything here is geared around Witherspoon’s character and people’s relationship to and with her. That makes it sometimes difficult to keep straight which of the vaguely-similar looking white dudes is which, but that only matters if you care that much. The other biggest draw here is a loose, scruffy-looking Michael Sheen, seeming to relish an opportunity to just hang back and be kind of a jerk.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.