Review: Lacking Momentum and Charisma, Rom-Com Your Place or Mine Squanders the Best of the Genre
As has been proven time and time again, making a contemporary rom-com that both entertains and endears itself onto its audiences is tricky business. All too often, recent entries into the genre come off flat and uninspired, and attempts to modernize or inject a bit of levity into the proceedings are more likely to fail than succeed.
Such is the case with Netflix’s latest attempt, Your Place or Mine, an aimless, lifeless attempt at a romantic missed-connections story that ends in a happily ever after. Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher star as longtime friends Debbie and Peter, who, although they once had a late-night dalliance in bed, now live on opposite sides of the country and are nothing more that platonic besties (yeah, right). Written and directed by Aline Brosch McKenna (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” and writer on The Devil Wears Prada), Your Place or Mine makes a valiant effort to dance that fine line between the classic tropes of the genre—meet cutes, quirky best friends, etc.—and the break-neck pace of dating in the 2020s, where relationships often form, happen and end in the span of a few text messages. With different leads, perhaps there’s some charm to be had here, but Witherspoon and Kutcher have about as much chemistry as Biden and Putin in a diplomatic meeting.
In a short prologue, we meet the Debbie and Peter of two decades ago, and things are off to a promising start. A history is established between these two, and McKenna makes some fun choices in setting the scene of the early aughts; a little wholesome nostalgia is never a bad idea. Unfortunately, the plot gets a bit lost (aka boring) from there, as we fast forward a couple decades and meet these two at very different points in their lives. Peter is now a high-powered New Yorker living in a skyscraper and working his life away, while Debbie is a teacher in Los Angeles, a bit of a hippy and a single mother raising her tween son, Jack (Wesley Kimmel, nephew of Jimmy). She has a pleasant enough support system in the quirky Scarlet (Rachel Bloom), Zen (Steve Zahn) and Alicia (Tig Notaro), but she’s not quite ready to let go of her tightly planned life long enough to fly out to New York for the work training she’s been putting off completing.
The decision is apparently made for her when Scarlet backs out on her offer to watch Jack for the week. But it’s Peter to the rescue when he drops everything to fly across the country and babysit while Debbie heads east to crash at his place and complete the course. And just like that, we’ve got the world’s most non-threatening premise as these two opposites end up in a bit of a The Holiday-esque life-swap drama, living in each other’s spaces and meeting each other’s people while only staying in touch via FaceTime and text messages. There’s a subplot about Debbie connecting with a sexy book editor, Theo (Jesse Williams), who wants to publish a manuscript she teases but ends up flirting with her instead; and the on-the-nose heartwarming storyline of Peter and Jack becoming buddies and the former helping the latter come out of his adolescent shell. It’s all a bit uninspired, and neither Witherspoon or Kutcher can seem to be bothered to try jazzing it up a bit.
Bosch McKenna is a talented writer, even if her individual efforts don’t always entirely work (The Devil Wears Prada? Big yes. Cruella? BIG no.), and she makes her feature film directing debut with Your Place or Mine. What’s more, Witherspoon at least is second only to the likes of Julia Roberts in the world of contemporary rom-coms, meaning together there should be some spark here. But the film fizzles instead, with an astonishing lack of momentum throughout (fault: Bosch McKenna) and a dire lack of interest for and between the characters (fault: Witherspoon and ensemble). All that said, there’s nothing terribly objectionable about this forgettable little flick, and as Netflix releases go, it’s an easy one to stream on a date night in or a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Your Place or Mine is now streaming on Netflix.
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