Movie Review – Finding Your Feet

Following a recent rise in Hollywood films about retirees getting a new lease on life, the British are now jumping on board to bring us their own old age comedy.

⭐ ⭐ ½
Elle Cahill

When Sandra (Imelda Staunton) discovers her husband has been cheating on her with a friend, she flees to her estranged sister’s house. Faced with the prospect at having to start again when she should be reaching retirement, Sandra blindly follows her sister on her day-to-day adventures and realises that it’s never too late for new beginnings.

Staunton flourishes, as always, in the role of highly-strung snob Sandra. She shows glimpses of a woman who is on the edge of losing control, suggesting Sandra has been unhappy for a long time, but is equally unaware of the depths of her unhappiness. Celia Imrie, who plays Sandra’s eccentric sister Bif, is charming as always, and her comedic timing is a thing of brilliance. Timothy Spall gives Sandra’s love interest a beautiful softness that isn’t often seen from him, making him the standout of the film, and the character you’re rooting for in the end.

The storyline isn’t anything new or particularly exciting, but it is successful in managing to balance the fine line between the lighter and more sombre scenes. Finding Your Feet isn’t afraid to shine a light on the difficulties of getting older and reaching a point when the presence death becomes a very real fixture in your life. Each character deals with the death of loved ones, or the approach of their own death, and each moment is dealt with sympathetically and sensitively. Played against this is the film’s humour, which not only pokes fun at the concept of growing old, but at old versus new attitudes. Some of the characters have embraced societal changes, whereas other characters are very much stuck in an old-school way of thinking and seeing the two types play against each other also creates some very funny moments.

Finding Your Feet is a quintessentially English film that is led by an incredible cast. What the story lacks in originality is made up for by a cast who manage to hit all the right notes in a story about death and love, proving that it’s never too late to start again.

 Finding Your Feet is available in Australian cinemas from February 22 

Image courtesy of eOne Films

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Movie Review – The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

The Nut Job 2 is busy doing a lot of things, but it fails to store anything for the winter.

⭐ ½
Michael Philp

The Nut Job was not a good film. There was just no getting around its problems: an unlikable protagonist, cheap animation, a thin plot and Brendan Fraser. Regardless, it made back its budget, so I guess that explains why the gang’s all back for a sequel. Mercifully, new director Cal Brunker has dealt with some of the listed issues. Main character Surly (Will Arnett) is slightly more likeable this time around, and Fraser is gone. Other than that, it’s business as usual.

Following the events of the first film, the animals of Liberty Park have found paradise in the abandoned nut shop, much to the chagrin of Andie (Katherine Heigl) who believes they need to learn to forage in the park. Lucky for her, the shop gets swiftly destroyed, and the animals are forced to fend for themselves once again. At the same time, Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan) is looking to squeeze profit from every corner of his city, and decides to transform Liberty Park into an amusement park. The animals must band together to outwit the humans and save their homes from destruction.

You’ll immediately spot one of the film’s biggest problems: a scattered plot that never nails down coherent themes. The film initially aims for “the importance of hard work”, but it swiftly abandons that idea in favour of Muldoon and his Looney Tunes brand of capitalism, and in turn abandons that for various other ideas and sub-plots. It’s a busy film, and it lacks the narrative foundation to sustain that hyper activeness.

In 2014 The Nut Job was considered subpar. It’s now 2018, and The Nut Job 2 feels like it was made back-to-back with the original. It doesn’t so much push the franchise to interesting places (ala Toy Story 2), but rather kills it with apathy. It shouldn’t be this hard to fill an hour and a half, even more so in a children’s film where the minimum standard is one moral lesson, sometimes two. The Nut Job 2 can’t even manage to get that right. Families will have a better time seeing Coco again than enduring The Nut Job 2’s bottom of the barrel offerings.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is available in Australian cinemas from January 12

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films

Movie Review – Pitch Perfect 3

The Pitch Perfect series goes out on a bum note in this staggeringly dumb threequel.

 

⭐ ⭐
Rhys Graeme-Drury

After the second film surpassed School of Rock as the highest-grossing music comedy of all-time in 2015, it became all but assured that the Barden Bellas would take to the stage for a third time. Pitch Perfect 3, which is billed as the final film in the series, is something of a victory lap for Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld and the rest of the crew. Congratulatory and coasting along, this farewell fails to live up to its predecessors by stretching its premise a little too far.

The hoops the film has to jump through to put the Bellas back on stage is where things start to get a little shaky. We’re just supposed to brush it off and enjoy that they’re back, not ask boring questions about how the plot actually works. Thanks to some iffy explanation, the Bellas jet across to Europe on some kind of audition tour for guest star DJ Khaled, who plays himself (pun intended). Supposedly they’ll score an opening slot on his tour if they impress DJ Khaled – or something. It’s not hugely important.

Pitch Perfect 3 shines when it sticks to what it does best; a capella. The music, which includes renditions of Britney Spears’ Toxic, DNCE’s Cake By The Ocean and Sia’s Cheap Thrills, is polished and enjoyable, however, the soundtrack doesn’t sport a knock-out track akin to ‘Cups’ or ‘Flashlight’ from the first two entries.

Conversely, the romantic subplots fail to hit the right notes; with their former love interests ditched, Kendrick and Snow are paired off with new vanilla hunks. Rather than focusing purely on the music, screenwriters Kay Cannon and Mike White tack on a ridiculous aside that sees Wilson reunited with her international arms dealer father (John Lithgow, sporting one of the worst Australian accents committed to film). Their rocky relationship hits a speed bump towards the final act, where it is revealed Lithgow is actually after Fat Amy’s secret Cayman Islands fortune, so he kidnaps the Bellas and holds them hostage aboard his yacht on the French Riviera (no, I am not making this up). It’s like a Comedy Central crossover spoof, and not in a good way.

Not lacking in energy, Pitch Perfect 3 unfortunately can’t translate its earnestness into anything that feels harmonious with the first two. The lazy screenplay isn’t enough to sustain the film, especially during the sillier subplots. The finale is suitably heartfelt for fans – you just have to wade through lots of dumb stuff to get there.

Pitch Perfect 3 is available in Australian cinemas from January 1

Image (c) Universal Pictures 2018 

Movie Review – Paddington 2

Paddington 2 is superbly entertaining, though allusions to The Grand Budapest Hotel highlight its shortcomings.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Michael Philp

Paddington is a refreshingly British property. Marmalade sandwiches, irreverent humour, and a deep sense of community all mark it as something belonging to the poms. It’s a relief then that Paddington 2 avoids the trap of sending its titular bear across the sea. Instead, it keeps things just as homely as the original film. This is a tale about a little bear doing (relatively) minor things in a small community in London. Of course, there’s room within that for adventure, but the sentiment exists, and it matters.

Some time has passed since the events of the first Paddington. Paddington (Ben Wishaw) has settled in with the Brown family quite well and is saving up to buy his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) a pop-up book of London for her 100th birthday. Things take a sharp turn when someone steals the book, and Paddington takes the blame. Whisked away to jail, Paddington must learn to survive in prison while relying on his family to clear his name.

That set up provides ample opportunities for joy, and Paddington 2’s characters bring it in spades. Hugh Grant hams it up deliciously as the villainous Pheonix Buchanan – a washed-up actor stuck doing dog food commercials; Brendan Gleeson brings heft to prison chef Nuckles McGinty, and Jim Broadbent and Peter Capaldi have a blast returning as Samuel Gruber and Mr Curry respectively. That’s not even mentioning the numerous cameos and quick jokes sprinkled throughout the film (Richard Ayoade is a particular delight). These are the people that make Paddington 2 such an entertaining film, keeping things breezy with an obvious love for the property.

Elsewhere the film makes up the bulk of its comedy with slapstick sequences. Paddington’s awkward but earnest attempts to maintain employment are hilarious, as are his efforts to make friends even in the hostile environment of prison. His ability to transform that environment might push your suspension of disbelief, but the film’s heart is in the right place. Paddington 2 is a film about community and how even one positive individual can make a world of difference. Considering the year we’ve had, that’s a pretty darn good message.

There’s something odd about the film, though: there are several distinct similarities between it and The Grand Budapest Hotel, primarily during the prison sequences (and the prison escape especially). The similarities appear to be a combination of trope overlap (the design of the prison is unavoidably the same) and deliberate allusions. There’s no way production design wasn’t thinking of The Grand Budapest when they made all of the prison uniforms pink, or when they had Paddington start baking cakes. The problem with this is that The Grand Budapest is a masterpiece of cinematography, and Paddington 2 is decidedly not. It’s solid, for sure, but it’s never adventurous in the way that it could be. It’s just ok. Thus, by referencing a distinctly better film, Paddington 2 ends up highlighting missed opportunities.

It’s clear that everyone had a blast working on Paddington 2. It continues the distinctly British traditions and comedic sensibilities that have made Paddington consistently delightful entertainment for decades now. The slapstick is outrageous, the cameos are amazing, and the marmalade is just the right side of sugary. Maybe one day the bear will branch out and explore new cities, but for now, London is home, and that’s definitely a positive.

Paddington 2 is available in Australian cinemas from December 21 

Image courtesy of StudioCanal

Movie Review – The Man Who Invented Christmas

A stocking stuffed with quite a lot of wrapping paper, The Man Who Invented Christmas struggles to get through its own excess.

⭐ ⭐ ½
Michael Philp

The thing about The Man Who Invented Christmas (TMWIC) is that you’ve seen most of it before. A respectable chunk of the film is a straight adaptation of A Christmas Carol – the same story you’ve been hearing since you were a child. It’s nice, it’s heart-warming, it’s a classic, and it’s been adapted dozens of times, sometimes with more panache than on this occasion (A Muppet Christmas Carol remains a personal favourite). So the first knock against TMWIC is simply that its version of A Christmas Carol isn’t all that special. The second knock is that the other story it’s telling – how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) came to write A Christmas Carol – is both overstuffed and dull. Not exactly a winning combination.

TMWIC opens to Dickens coming off the high of a tour of America. Cut to a year and two flops later: Dickens is broke and needs a hit to get through Christmas. His publishers laugh at him when he suggests a Christmas story. “It’s October, you haven’t written anything yet, and nobody cares about Christmas!” They say, being the savvy business people they are. Dickens stubbornly ignores them and decides to risk everything to self-publish the novel. In the process, characters such as Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) come alive through Dickens’ thoughts and begin tormenting him. To triumph, Dickens is forced to wrestle not only with his characters, but also the inner demons they represent.

Dan Stevens does solid work here. His Dickens is energetic and conflicted – pushed and pulled by both outer and inner forces, he is perpetually bouncing between problems – and Stevens does admirable work keeping everything centred. Likewise, Plummer is a reliable source of amusement and is devilishly delicious as Scrooge. Avoiding the temptation of passivity, Plummer keeps his Scrooge engaged in the act of torturing his creator. Plummer’s dynamic with Stevens is perhaps the film’s saving grace and is certainly its most well-developed aspect. If only the filmmakers had focused in on that, we might’ve had something recommendable.

Instead, we get an abundance of subplots that dull the film, like running a knife across a rock. Some of them – like William Makepeace Thackeray – just need snappier editing to liven things up. Others – like Dickens’ nephew, the inspiration for Tiny Tim – should be jokes instead of entire scenes. These would be minor quibbles if there weren’t so damn many of them. There are at least three different subplots that desperately need trimming, and one that needs to be deleted entirely. Those stories come at the expense of the main one, killing its momentum and making you wish the film would go back to the mediocre version of A Christmas Carol.

You can praise TMWIC’s production design (it’s quite lavish), and performances (universally solid), but you’ll find it hard to praise the film they’re in service of. Quite simply it doesn’t serve them back. Charles Dickens’ life should make for an entertaining film, but unfortunately, this Christmas story isn’t it.

The Man Who Invented Christmas is available in Australian Cinemas November 30

Image courtesy of Icon Film Distribution.

Movie Review – The Disaster Artist

One of the most anticipated comedies of the year; three Hooked on Film reviewers previewed James Franco’s new film The Disaster Artist, and this is what they thought.

 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  ½
Michael Philp

 The Disaster Artist is the true story behind the best worst movie known to man – The Room. Dubbed the “all-conquering cult leader of bad movies,” by our own Rhys Graeme-Drury, The Room is a film that has to be seen to be believed. Hilarious, insane, and awe-inspiring, you will think it can’t get crazier, immediately before it tops itself for the tenth time. Astonishingly, the story of its creation is even weirder.

The centrepiece of The Disaster Artist is undoubtedly Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) – the director of The Room and the world’s greatest source of unintentional comedy. A living, breathing rejected Men in Black design, Wiseau is a comedic gift from the heavens. If it weren’t for the pre-show interview, you’d swear he couldn’t be real. Franco is phenomenal in his dedication to the role, mining comedy from even the simplest of interactions. His brother, Dave Franco – playing straight-man Greg Sestero – is equally good, but is overshadowed by the sheer comedic force of Wiseau’s visage.

The Disaster Artist wrings comedy gold from Wiseau’s very existence. James Franco’s performance is a hysterical character study of a man who remains one of the greatest mysteries of our era. When a simple football kick can raise the house, you know you’re watching something special. The perfect follow up to a perfectly imperfect film, The Disaster Artist is easily one of the best comedies of the year.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  ½
Rhys Graeme-Drury

The best thing about The Disaster Artist, I found, wasn’t that it is hilarious and ingeniously referential, which of course it is – it’s that the film melds elements of parody perfectly with shades of sincerity, in the process forming a well-rounded package that is captivating, strange, emotional and uplifting, sometimes all in the same scene.

 This isn’t just James Franco, his brother and some of their mates (Seth Rogen plays a script editor, Zac Efron makes an appearance) pointing and laughing at Wiseau and his abominable cult classic. No, there is authentic affection and earnestness ingrained in Franco’s film; a wholesome genuineness about it.

The prologue, which sees a host of famous faces including Kristen Bell, Adam Scott and J.J. Abrams, take time out of their schedule to gush about The Room, sets the scene perfectly; this isn’t mean-spirited or heckling Wiseau, it’s a sonnet overflowing with affection for everything from terrible cult cinema to those who chase their dreams and fall through the cracks. The screenplay, penned by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, preserves Wiseau’s eccentricities, keeps the narrative tight and ensures the focus remains firmly on his relationship with Sestero and their shared dream of making it big.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Josip Knezevic

As the age-old expression goes, what else is there left to say that hasn’t been said already? The Disaster Artist is everything a great comedy does and everything that a sincerely heartfelt film can be. However, more importantly, it’s a film that ultimately acts as a tale and tool for inspiration.

Whilst you can laugh (as almost everyone has done so) at Wiseau’s foolish antics and absurd aspirations for his life, we are given a chance to respect his endless pursuit for his dreams amongst the numerous obstacles in his way. It can be as simple as making a pact, or rather a pinky promise, between a friend, and never failing to protect that asseveration.

It’s about following the path of enduring the pain, where everything around you is telling you you’re wrong and the courage to continue to following it. This is why Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sistero are beacons of hope. Life will not always turn out the way you planned it, but if you want it strongly enough, it will be exactly how you need it. So, fail spectacularly and become a global sensation: that is the story of The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist is available at Luna Cinemas from November 30, Australia wide December 7.

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films 2017.

Movie Review – Brad’s Status

Ben Stiller ponders his lot in life in Mike White’s quietly humorous and thoughtful new film. 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Rhys Graeme-Drury

Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller) is nearly 50 and has a lot of stuff going on in his melon. His not-for-profit business has stalled, his one and only child – Troy (Austin Abrams) – is heading off to college and his marriage to Melanie (Jenna Fischer) isn’t the excitable romp it once was.

As a result, Brad lies awake at night yearning for what could have been, for the lives he could have led. His mind wanders to those he aligned himself with during college (Michael Sheen, Jemaine Clement, Luke Wilson), who have gone on to enjoy riches and success in the intervening years, forgetting and distancing themselves from Brad and his painfully mediocre existence in the process.

Adrift in suburban Sacramento and surrounded by cheerfully complacent “beta males”, a father/son trip to Boston to look at universities only serves to reinforce these internal inadequacies; Troy, a talented pianist, has a shot at getting into Harvard, a college that outstrips Brad’s own education across town at Tufts. Is that pride, Brad feels, or jealousy?

Written and directed by Mike White, Brad’s Status aligns itself with a familiar feeling deep inside all of us; the competition we feel with our peers and the desire for something greater. A lot of this concern is voiced internally by Stiller as he tosses and turns at night or stares out of a plane window. White’s film spends a lot of its time inside Stiller’s head, partaking in lengthy monologues about paths not taken or grudges left unaddressed.

As a result, Stiller is lumped with a lot of the lifting, as he furrows his brow and shifts in his seat, searching internally for some shred of solace. It’s an impressive performance amongst a collection of impressive performances; his meandering unspoken reveries work in opposition with the concise musings that are said aloud as well as the sulky grunts offered up by his son.

White’s writing is effective (if a little on-the-nose) but the cast make it work, taking the heightened divide between Brad and those he yearns to replicate and running with it. Particularly impressive is Abrams, who manages a level of angst and wisdom only a teenager can muster, and Sheen, as a charismatic contemporary man who has hit it big in Hollywood and married well.

The pacing is suitably slow for a film all about feeling adrift and aimless, but not so much that it lacks drive or structure. In keeping with its themes, Brad’s Status doesn’t offer a rousing finale or a gutful of catharsis; viewers will need to go in search of significance and satisfaction, rather than have it dumped at their feet in the third act. It’s an apt ending, but not one that all will find enjoyable.

Meditative and introspective, Brad’s Status is an exhaustive and achingly honest exploration of anxiety and self-doubt. While it may feel a little familiar, there is joy to be found in its wry humour.

 

Brad’s Status is available in Australian cinemas from November 9.

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films 2017.

Movie Review – A Bad Moms Christmas

Christmas will soon be upon us and along with it a new batch of seasonal films for the whole family – or sometimes just for the adults. A Bad Moms Christmas offers a variety of crudity and vile humor that aims to be as gross as it does shocking. If only any of it was remotely funny.


Josip Knezevic

Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn reprise their roles from the first Bad Moms (yes I can’t believe they made a sequel as well), but this time they’re met with their equally bad counterparts – their own mums. It seems like this will be the trend for this year’s Christmas movies, with the upcoming Daddy’s Home 2 set to do much of the same thing, just with the opposite sex.

A Bad Moms Christmas seems to take the most basic form of monkey humour but branches it out to a platform that we haven’t seen before; motherhood. We don’t expect mums to be seen in such a light and that’s what’s meant to make it funny. It was the same reason Bad Santa was so popular but making something original doesn’t necessarily make it automatically hilarious. A bad joke is a bad joke, no matter how you polish it, and this is ultimately where the Bad Moms franchise is lacking.

Dialogue about penises or vaginal waxing feel only thrown in as an attempt to gather up laughs from shock value. Reactions of “oh my god I can’t believe a mum just said that, she’s not supposed to say that hahaha” are heavily relied upon throughout, but this doesn’t make the jokes genuinely hilarious. Soon enough, this whole routine becomes just tiresome. When humour that isn’t based off vulgarity does arrive, they’re mostly predictable from moments ahead of time or are simply yet another eye roller. This coming from a man who loves dad jokes. But maybe not just of the bad mum’s kind.

Aside from the humour, the overall plot follows a formulaic affair that, whilst touching on some heartfelt moments, isn’t anything special enough to be considered good. Not only have you seen the same moments in other Christmas films but they’re executed so much better elsewhere. And I’m not just talking about the classic Christmas flicks of Home Alone and The Santa Clause; Bad Santa manages to become a better antihero to enjoy on-screen. This is because his character is as believable as he is heartbroken and funny. He’s a nice balance between the bad that we can laugh at and the good that we ultimately sympathise with.

None of these aspects are found in A Bad Moms Christmas. What we are left with is another poor excuse for a chick flick that represents another missed opportunity for a genre that continues to add cheesy Christmas movie after cheesy Christmas movie. In a time where focus on women empowerment is at the forefront of so many films this year, A Bad Moms Christmas is a failure for many of those powerful leading examples and for women in general. Mums do amazing things for us and unfortunately, in this case, they deserve better.

A Bad Moms Christmas is available in Australian cinemas from November 2.

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films 2017

Movie Review – Three Summers

Three Summers is determined to bring a sunny disposition to the thorniest of political topics.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Michael Philp

Let’s get this out of the way quick-smart: for some people, Three Summers will not be an easy film. It should be – it’s a comedy, after all – but it’s also an unreservedly left-wing perspective on Australia that will rub certain people up the wrong way. It wears its politics on its sleeve in almost every scene, and you’ll either laugh along with it or get frustrated when it (regularly) dismisses conservative opinions. In other words, it’s a Ben Elton film.

Written and directed by Elton, Three Summers is a film about Australia and its stories. Accordingly, it follows a variety of groups at the fictional Westival music festival. There’s the feisty Warrikins (Rebecca Breeds, John Waters); Roland the Theremin player (Robert Sheehan); the Morris dancers led by Michael Caton; Queenie the relentlessly sunny radio announcer (Magda Szubanski); and about half a dozen other plotlines, all converging on the same campgrounds over three years.

It’s impressive just how well Elton manages to juggle it all. Considering the number of ideas he’s throwing around, it would’ve been easy for the film to descend into a preachy soup. Instead, thanks to the extended timespan, there’s always a fresh joke around the corner. Revisiting these characters over multiple years affords us the chance to watch them grow and adjust naturally. A punk band dwindles, an AA meeting grows, and certain events challenge the community dynamic in surprising ways. Through it all, a warmly empathetic optimism brings the disparate groups together.

That optimism is what ultimately ties the film together. Elton himself has made it clear that he wanted to make a nice film – something lovely and warm – and that ethos shines through. Even when the film is confronting Australia’s thorniest conversations – the refugee crisis, Aboriginal marginalisation – it remains upbeat and acknowledges them as decipherable problems. They aren’t just rocks and hard places, they are people, and people deserve love and respect.

With so many stories it’s also inevitable that some of them won’t get the time they deserve. Aboriginal marginalisation, for instance, is a complex topic that is ill-suited to a comedy that can’t focus on it. One of the children wears an ankle-monitor which is played for a single laugh but never properly addressed. That’s practically the definition of lip-service, and it’s not the only instance of it. Elton is sincere in his desire to confront difficult issues, and his attempts are at least commendable, but the problems are also much bigger than he can manage in an already busy film.

Conservatives will bristle, but lefties will laugh at the shenanigans in Three Summers. It’s not a perfect film – Elton would do well to narrow his scope next time – but it’s genuine where it counts. It’s a kind-hearted comedy with some wonderful performances (Szubanski is just lovely) and a gorgeously Australian setting. It’s the perfect film for an outdoor screening on a warm summer’s eve so expect it to remain a mainstay of those events for years to come.

 

Three Summers is available in Australian cinemas from November 2.

Image courtesy of Transmission Films 2017

 

Movie Review: Home Again

Despite its gutsy topic, Home Again doesn’t quite land as hard as it could have but is still a decent attempt from debut filmmaker Hallie Meyers-Shyer.

⭐ ⭐ 
Elle Cahill

When Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon) moves to Los Angeles after taking a break from her marriage, she struggles to keep it all together for her daughters, and on a rare night out on her birthday, she starts flirting with young filmmaker Harry (Pico Alexander). She agrees to let Harry and his two filmmaking buddies move into her guest house for a couple of days, which ends up turning into weeks as Alice and Harry start up a relationship, and her daughters begin to rely on the young men as mentors and role models.

When movies deal with older women going out with younger men, they are generally portrayed as women who negatively influence the younger male and take advantage of their youth. Thankfully Home Again doesn’t stoop to this level. The film is merely about a woman rediscovering her sexual freedom and coming to terms with her continuing her life alone.

After Harry and Alice fail to sleep with each other the first night they meet, Alice attempts to set boundaries, and makes no apologies for being a mother and having other responsibilities that must come first. With the reappearance of Alice’s ex-husband Austen (Michael Sheen), she again makes no apologies for choosing to put him first over the guys to give her daughters a chance at having two parents who get along. Compared to more recent films about mothers trying to get back into the dating scene, this approach is a breath of fresh air.

Home Again is a debut feature for director Hallie Meyers-Shyer and maybe it is this inexperience that lets the film down, but the brilliance of Sheen, Candice Bergen and Witherspoon at her disposal, they were completely underutilised.

Sheen tries earnestly to bring more to the role but the flat material meant that he could have been any old schmuck. Similarly, Bergen’s fantastic comedic ability could have been made use of more but she spends the whole film being pushed to the background, making the odd funny appearance but remaining largely invisible.

The humour is aimed strongly at women, and for the most part delivers, but it doesn’t quite match the comedy that can be seen in other woman-focused comedies such as Bridesmaids. The two stand-outs of the film who beautifully played off each other was Alice’s two daughters. Lola Flannery played neurotic pre-teen Isabel whose impressive ability to list her depression systems and the medication she should be on, is a comment on today’s society and hilariously timed. Little Eden Grace Redfield, who plays Alice’s young daughter Rosie, follows up her sister’s neurotises with her blunt straight-talking, making her seem wise beyond her few years.

The film is a fair attempt at telling the story of a complicated family situation and how the people who become your family don’t necessarily need to be blood. Unfortunately its plot holes leave you with more questions than answers and this holds it back from being a nice, light-hearted film.

Home Again is available in Australian cinemas from October 19

Image courtesy of Entertainment One Films.