Movie Review: Your Place or Mine
Netflix's Valentine's-weekend romcom is a prototypical light romance — and that shows why we don't really need these flicks anymore.
The traditional Hollywood romcom has sadly — or mercifully, depending on your perspective — receded from the culture. Twenty years ago, any two recognizable stars placed in a mildly inconvenient situation was a recipe for romance and ticket sales; now, meet cutes and climactic declarations of love are few and far between.
The amiable “Your Place or Mine,” better handled, might’ve reminded us what we’re missing. Instead, it highlights the reasons why such films are diverting yet disposable.
The not-yet-happy not-yet-couple consists of single mom Debbie (Reese Witherspoon) and wealthy bachelor Peter (Ashton Kutcher), longtime best friends now living on opposite coasts. While they met with an early-aughts one-night-stand, they transitioned into a loving friendship. (Incidentally, it’s the kind of cross-gender companionship that’s sadly underrepresented in cinema — although how it’s treated here is worse than underrepresentation, with the tacit implication that any compatible friends are merely lovers in waiting.)
The pair swaps cities and apartments for a week; she needs to be in New York for a seminar, he heads to Los Angeles to care for her sad-sack son (Wesley Kimmel). Both have an eventful week, featuring flings, revelations and soul searching; the result, of course, is the creeping suspicion that they may be in love with one another.
There’s something deft about keeping the protagonists apart for the entire film, and director Aline Brosh McKenna deftly uses split-screen to let the far-flung friends interact visually. But a series of escalating developments inadvertently makes both Peter and Debbie less sympathetic; if you decide they should be together, it’s only because it would be wise to limit their madness to one household.
Tig Notaro is the clear MVP, as Debbie’s droll Los Angeles sounding board; Steve Zahn returns to his 2000s goofy-sidekick mode, in an underwritten yet welcome turn. (One wonders why so many romcoms have more interesting characters in supporting roles than the lead.) Their efforts, though, are merely to liven up drab proceedings, like surprisingly talented lounge singers on a cut-rate cruise ship.
Undoubtedly, there’s a warm-blanket effect to a movie like this; it’s easy, comforting and requires nothing of the viewer. In that, though, “Your Place or Mine” demonstrates why films such as this are rare: They’re a trifle in an era of endless content. Sure, it’s pleasant, but who has time for merely pleasant?
My Rating: 5/10
“Your Place or Mine” is streaming on Netflix.