A lot was made of Jennifer Lopez’s return to romantic comedies last year with Marry Me and recently with Shotgun Wedding. But that ignores the fact that nobody really paid to see either one and the reviews were crap. So what does that bode for another genre stalwart making her return to the realm of the meet cute: Reese Witherspoon? Well, it ain’t all bad. Your Place or Mine, which pairs Witherspoon with Ashton Kutcher and hails from 27 Dresses writer Aline Brosh McKenna, is light, airy stuff that exists solely on the charm of its cast.
Witherspoon and Kutcher are in early 2000s form here, for sure. She is warm and likable as ever as Debbie, a busy working mom in Los Angeles. Perhaps a bit too doting on her young son Jack, played by Jimmy Kimmel’s nephew, Wesley Kimmel. Kutcher plays Tom, a corporate branding guru who talks like a self-help audio book and has very clear commitment issues. He’s got a perfectly awesome, but soulless pad in New York, hinting at the broken heart underneath that happy exterior. He and Debbie shared one magical night 20 years earlier, but he nipped any potential relationship in the bud the next day. And yet they’ve remained best friends ever since, literally talking to one another on the phone for what seems the entirety of the day. McKenna, making her directorial debut, has some visual fun with Debbie and Tom’s long distance connection. Suffice it to say, they have separate lives but…well, not really.
With Debbie in need of an accounting class that she can only take in Manhattan, Tom, who has left his corporate career behind, flies out to L.A. to watch over Jack. They essentially switch lives. Debbie goes to stay in Tom’s bachelor pad and immediately takes to the freedom that comes with not being a parent. She becomes pals with Tom’s weird, stalker-ish neighbor Minka (Zoe Chao), and even catches the eye of a sexy publisher (Jesse Williams) who could be everything she’s been looking for. Meanwhile, Tom is helping Jack to break out of his shell against his risk-averse mother’s wishes, while getting sage/weird advice from Jack’s teacher Alicia (Tig Notaro), while Steve Zahn plays a rich guy who can’t keep his pants up in Debbie’s garden. He’s adapting to domesticity and seeing what life could’ve been like if he were to actually settle down.
But oh oh oh OH, who should he settle down with??? It’s a given exactly how this movie is going to end and who Debbie and Tom will be with. The path to getting there has a familiar rhythm, as well. Wacky supporting characters who are, at times, more compelling than the leads. Notaro’s Alicia is especially fascinating. She packs so many details into a single line about her strange life with her wife and kids and Tiktoking and so much else that we kinda want to hang out with her for a while. We can predict the exact moment that Debbie will jump back into the dating pool; the exact moment that Tom will do something risky that threatens everything.
Fortunately, Your Place or Mine has Witherspoon and Kutcher who know this terrain intimately. They don’t actually spend that much time together on screen, which might explain why they’ve spent part of the press tour explaining their lack of chemistry. McKenna’s screenplay doesn’t reach for much other than to be a comforting rom-com throwback, and she has the stars who can deliver that. Debuting as it is on Netflix, where romantic comedies have really found a home, it’ll be an easy watch sure to draw its share of viewers.
Your Place or Mine is streaming on Netflix now.