One Road Films 1 hour 37 minutes PG-13
If you’re looking for some cute family fair with material providing a few laughs, this will due. It’s a pretty standard rom-com with some traditionally pretentious, Hollywood characters. It has a good cast trapped in a script that is not challenging enough.
Writer/Director Hallie Meyers-Shyer grew up in Hollywood raised by movie making parents; writer and highest grossing female director, Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give), and Writer/Producer Charles Shyer (Father of the Bride, The Parent Trap). Meyers-Shyer knows the landscape and puts it to work here.
Reese Witherspoon is Alice, a woman turning 40 (the actress also just turned 40), who is starting a new life. She just separated from her high-powered music business executive, Austen (Michael Sheen) moving with their young girls to her late father, a legendary Oscar winning Director’s lush home in LA where she grew up.
She meets 3 adorable 20-something filmmakers at a boozy birthday celebration in a bar with her girlfriends and they end up crashing in her guest house. She and the irresistible, director, Harry, (Pico Alexander), become an item. Teddy (Nat Wolff, The Fault in our Stars), is the actor of the threesome. He tries to keep things on track to make their film. So does George, (Jon Rudnitsky, SNL), the writer. They are all good boys who are helpful with Alice’s beautiful little girls played with cloying cuteness by Eden Grace Redfield and Lola Flanery. Candice Bergen looks great in this film, as Alice’s mother and grandma to the girls, but other than a couple of snappy lines, she’s underused.
It’s all so antiseptic. Alice has reservations but they all get along so well in La La Land, except for Zoey played by Lake Bell. She is an entitled California diva who hires Alice as an interior designer but treats her like a servant. We found her characterization way over the top. She’s portrayed as a villain without having much of an affect on the rest of the plot. Bell is enormously talented, but this was more of a distraction than anything else. It didn’t seem to serve a purpose or fit with the rest of the film.
Predictably, things get complicated when Daddy Austen drops in from New York. Some of the funniest throw-away lines reference the TV culture, including a Zoloft commercial. There is pretty detail of beautiful LA homes, restaurants, dinner parties, even a movie set. No situation is too dire and no one is that good or bad. It’s all kind of vanilla.
At one point in the film, the boys balk at changing the script of their passion project and say they only write what they know. Clearly, this movie is the parallel of that statement. It simply draws from the Hollywood Hallie Meyers-Schyer knows.