‘Your Place Or Mine’ Review: Reese Witherspoon And Ashton Kutcher Go The Distance In Sweet, If Familiar, Romcom

‘Your Place Or Mine’ Review: Reese Witherspoon And Ashton Kutcher Go The Distance In Sweet, If Familiar, Romcom

There is nothing particular original or groundbreaking in the new Netflix romcom, Your Place Or Mine, yet it is just that comfortable familiarity in a movie that isn’t trying to rewrite the rules of engagement in a time-worn genre that make this pleasing confection a perfect Valentines Day offering. In fact it is the streamers who are filling the bill for couples looking for a little love in their movie going, but this one marking a stylish feature directorial debut for veteran screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna ( The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses) is sweet enough to make staying at home on the couch for Cupid’s big day a fine alternative to get into the mood.

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Actually the core premise of having its two main characters switch homes and cities for a week isn’t new at all. Nancy Meyers did it sensationally for example with 2006’s The Holiday, but in that one it was two strangers, played by Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, answering ads who agreed to switch homes and locales for a Christmas season in which they would discover a new life by living another’s. Here we have 40ish long time BFFs Debbie (Reese Witherspoon) and Peter (Ashton Kutcher) who make the swap in very different circumstances. Twenty years earlier they had a one night stand that Peter just didn’t want to repeat, claiming he was committment-phobic and not the right guy for her. They decided instead to be best friends, even at a long distance when his fear of earthquakes led him to flee Los Angeles for New York City where he could follow his writing ambitions, although clearly he has money by the looks of his dream apartment looking out over the Big Apple. Peter and Debbie are inseparable however due to their phones and laptops, constantly sharing the ups and down of their lives, polar opposite as they are.

Debbie is divorced and bringing up son, Jack (Wesley Kimmel) about whom she is clearly over-protective. An accountant at a local school she seizes the opportunity to expand her horizons and head to NYC for some classes that will help her advance in her job, plus it is a good opportunity to see old friend Peter. However when her babysitter bails on the eve of her trip she has to cancel until Peter suggests he can be on the plane to L.A. to fill in and take care of Jack while she comes to NY. So they switch homes for a week and discover what they thought they knew about their best friend becomes quite different experiencing each other’s actual lifestyle and homes.

Peter turns out to be just the male influence Jack needs, opening up a whole new world to the kid who was bullied at school and had few friends. From watching Aliens together (mom would never allow that) to getting Jack into Hockey it is a completely different life for Peter than he ever had in NY. The same goes on the opposite coast for Debbie who is befriended by an ex of Peter’s named Minka (Zoe Chao), discovers a book manuscript Peter had never told her he wrote, and enters into a business and sexual relationship with the handsome publisher Theo (Jesse Williams) to whom she pitched Peter’s book (unbeknownst to the author). Things go a bit awry on both ends of this swap , predictably, but it would be no spoiler alert to say it all ends in satisfying romcom fashion, but thankfully one grounded in reality. It is also novel in this genre these days, particularly on Netflix which has specialized in them, that at the center of this romcom are two stars in middle age.

You can thank solid pros and veterans of the genre, Witherspoon and Kutcher, for really making this work as well as it does. This kind of movie can fall flatter than a pancake without the right chemistry, and even if they are not on screen together for the majority of the film it all works, especially as McKenna effectively employs the old fashioned device of split screens for their bi-coastal facetime and phone chats, even one sequence in dueling bathtubs that is a direct hommage (or steal?) to Rock and Doris in Pillow Talk.

As the time honored romcom roles of the best friends, both stylishly dressed Chao and Tig Notaro playing a mutual friend of both Debbie and Peter fill the requirements perfectly, the latter offering her welcome trademark deadpan wit. Kimmel , nephew of Jimmy Kimmel, is refreshingly uncloying and believable as Jack. Among the rest of the cast only Steve Zahn’s rather one dimensional neighbor Zen, obsessed with tending to Debbie’s overgrown garden, seems over the top, less a recognizable human being and more a device to get broad laughs.

Producers are Jason Bateman, Michael Costigan, Witherspoon, Lauren Neustadter, and McKenna. Netflix begins streaming Your Place Or Mine on Friday.

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