Nancy Meyers is famous for her rom-com romps by the likes of The Parent Trap and The Holiday, making use of warm lighting and alfresco dining.
Naturally, her daughter Hallie Meyers-Sheyer makes her directorial debut with similar finesse and charm in with subject material that is simply yet masterfully executed.
Alice (Reece Witherspoon-in a role fresh off Big Little Lies) is a newly separated single mum who has made the daring yet daunting move from New York to Los Angeles while her music producer husband stays behind. While she seeks to re-establish herself as an interior designer with her mother and daughters in tow, she encounters three charming but struggling filmmakers Harry (suave newcomer Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff). Despite a twenty year age gap, the trio slide seamlessly into the family, acting as paternal and fraternal figures to her children and unleashing the fun, free spirit of ALice herself. Cue the twilight dinners and yoga classes with younger men (with the absolute compliance of Alice’s friends, who seem to facilitate the arrangement).
What’s really delightful is the chemistry between Alexander and Witherspoon, notwithstanding the age gap that does not lessen the plausibility. Meyers-Sheyer does not shy away from the obvious gags, such as Alice being awake at 5.30am the next da after a romantic fling and folding her dates laundry into a neatly pressed bundle, or addressing the all-too-transparent reason for having a “slumber party.”
By the second third of the movie, the pace drops when the realities of trying to survive as a filmmaker in the savage city of Angels, coupled with the inevitable return of Alice’s husband (Michael Sheen). Having a full house almost turns into Who’s Coming to Dinner meets Married…With Children. There are enough comedic moments to satisfy that don’t relay on generational differences or references to naive men with mature, experienced women.
This certainly isn’t Cougar Town, but at times it does prey on some sappy moments be they home maintenance repairs or the rediscovery of a lost passion after a long period of repression.
It’s worth taking a night out to be introduced to this family dynamic, but don’t pull the roast out of the oven just yet.