The new romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon & Ashton Kutcher, Your Place or Mine, is now streaming, but should you give it a watch?
May 11, 2018. The Day Netflix Brought Back The Rom-Com.
Whether you like it or not, the release of The Kissing Booth in 2018 set off a pretty impressive streak of successful romantic comedies for young & old in a genre that had been relatively dormant in movie theaters for some time.
The Kissing Booth. Set It Up. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. The Princess Switch.
They were all released that year, and three of those four went on to spawn multiple sequels (Sadly, Set It Up was so good that they couldn’t do it more than once *wink*).
The Perfect Date, Someone Great, & Always Be My Maybe would soon follow and cement Netflix as the go-to studio for these types of stories.
Now, it’s 2023 and sadly, the well has started to dry. All their franchises have ended. Efforts from the likes of Rachel Leigh Cook & Lindsay Lohan didn’t set the world on fire. Hope for another resurgence has started to fade.
Maybe feeling pressure to return to their former glory, Netflix has brought out the big guns this weekend as they release their latest rom-com, Your Place or Mine, with an all-star cast headed by genre elites Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama) & Ashton Kutcher (No Strings Attached, A Lot Like Love).
The film centers around the longtime friendship of Debbie (Witherspoon) & Peter (Kutcher) as their one-night stand 20 years ago has now turned into best friends even as they now live on opposite coasts.
Balancing life as a working single mom of a teenage boy allergic to seemingly everything, Debbie finally does something for herself as she plans a trip to New York City to upgrade her education and see her best buddy Peter in the process.
When her babysitter falls through, Peter takes responsibility and flies across the country to look after young Jack. Though initially reluctant, Debbie accepts Peter’s offer and stays at his place. While they stay at each other’s homes, they open themselves to new experiences and learn some secrets about each other that could change their relationship forever.
Written & directed by veteran Aline Brosh McKenna (27 Dresses, The Devil Wears Prada), Your Place or Mine is in some ways a throwback to the genre classics of the late 90s/2000s with familiar tropes that can make long-time fans of Witherspoon & Kutcher delight in those comforts.
However, the film seems to be overwritten & overly complicated at every turn. With a dizzying amount of dialogue and exposition, the feeling I had by the end of the film was a relief as we finally got what we thought we would all along, but had to be dragged through so many plot layers & unnecessary characters that you have to submit to the film by its conclusion.
Aline Brosh McKenna is an admitted fan of the classic two-hander romantic tales from His Girl Friday to You’ve Got Mail. Still, while a marquee duo leads her film, the pair of Witherspoon and Kutcher spend more time on the phone or in flashback than they do in face-to-face, chemistry-building moments. By the time we get to see them together in person, we are spent with their story apart, which feels like an absolute robbery considering the talent we came to see.
We have no idea why they are such good friends, let alone may be fated for something more. They hook up, he declares he is an “unknowable piece of sh*t” who she shouldn’t date, and then the film “yadda yaddas” them into the present without explaining how a fleeing, commitment-phobe endeared himself enough to his one-night stand that they become “talk every day” best friends.
Our sanity in this film is the bounty of charming actors and locales. While playing relatively thin & predictable characters, Witherspoon and Kutcher use their experience in the genre to good use by smiling & endearing us with their boy/girl next door looks & energy even in middle age (annoying as a current 40-year-old myself). While we don’t feel the LA experience that much, we get a heap of the New York City brilliance in its bridges, parks, and exquisite nightlife. While not the well-crafted opulence of the Nancy Myers’ film homes, I could absolutely see myself living in either Peter’s sleek sky-high apartment or Debbie’s charming and bright home in LA.
The always welcomed laid-back snark of comedian/actress Tig Notaro and the wildly unfair good looks of “Grey’s Anatomy” star Jesse Williams also prove useful in the film, but unfortunately, they cannot overcome the suffocating and meandering nature of the screenplay.
Overall, Your Place or Mine gave us elder millennials two of our major film stars a return to the genre & medium we love to see them in after years of TV work. Still, the script is in a tragic zone of too much plot and not enough chemistry and character building to succeed on the level these stars and their fans deserve.
Watch Your Place or Mine on Netflix if you like:
- The Holiday
- No Strings Attached
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
- Home Again
MVP of Your Place or Mine
Ashton Kutcher as Peter, and Wesley Kimmel as Jack
While the romantic plot may not always gel in this movie, the attempts at temporary fatherhood for Kutcher’s Peter over Kimmel’s Jack could be quite successful and impactful at times. Once Peter moves on from trying to “rebrand” Jack’s image with his friends at school and starts getting to the heart of Jack’s core issues, the film shows some true growth for both characters and gives emotional lifts that are lacking in most of the main story.
PLAY, PAUSE, OR STOP?
It’s great to see Reese and Ashton take on film roles again, but let’s hope for a stronger, more coherent script next time around.