Your Place or Mine Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
A typical romantic comedy in the style of the late 90s / early 2000s. McKenna’s directorial debut is clichéd, unfunny & derivative of other flicks already seen before.
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Romance
Director: Aline Brosh McKenna
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Ashton Kutcher, Wesley Kimmel, Zoë Chao, Jesse Williams, Tig Notaro, Steve Zahn, Rachel Bloom & Griffin Matthews.
Run Time: 109 min.
US Release: 10 February 2023 (Netflix)
UK Release: 10 February 2023 (Netflix)
German Release: 10 February 2023 (Netflix)
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I hope you all have a nice evening together with your loved ones, enjoying a glass of wine. Since today is the day to celebrate romance, I decided to review another new Netflix release, which came out last Friday. The talk is about Aline Brosh McKenna’s feature debut Your Place or Mine. A typical rom-com, including a lot of kitsch, cheesy lines, plus non-existing chemistry between the two leads. I did not expect anything groundbreaking, obtaining exactly what I anticipated; the typical romantic flick we have all seen one-million times. So grab your heart-shaped pillows, lean back and enjoy my review.
Peter and Debbie, two long-distance best friends, decide to swap houses for a week when she decides to pursue a lifelong career dream. In exchange, he volunteers to watch over her teenage son. As expected, both learn more about each other, with feelings arising.
The script, written by the director herself, is not good! It recycles familiar tropes of the genre that have been done to death, making this yet another rom-com distorting reality, while lacking any sort of originality or surprise. The general outcome of the premise is extremely obvious, with the rest of the feeling more like filler material, to pad out the runtime. In other words, this romantic comedy is terribly boring, with nothing major happening!
Disagreements, as well as conflicts occurring along the path, are of minimal importance never truly endangering the “happy end”. The plot is filled with unnecessary exposition; the awkward introduction, taking place in 2003, is filled with written pop-up notes that keep explaining what the behavioural and fashion culture was back in the day. Then there is the unfunny humour, just like the lame dynamic between the two leads that feels unnatural. All of this makes the short runtime of 109 minutes feel much longer!
Nonetheless, it does have a positive message at its core, be it one we have heard one million times in this particular genre. It also contains cute “fatherly” moments between Peter and Debbie’s teenage son Jack.
The conversations are among the exposition heaviest, retelling events that happened mere seconds ago. Dialogues are sickenly cheesy at times, adding artificial drama. Simply put, the verbal exchanges between people do not feel organic. This is not well-written dialogue!
The story’s focus lies mostly on the two main characters, as well as the son of one of the leads. The rest are banal personas, meant to either interfere in their evolving relationship or help the two out. While Zoë Chao is the most amusing of the bunch, the rest of the side characters were simply boring! Jesse Williams was cast to look hot, Tig Notaro cracked a couple of unfunny jokes while playing herself. Finally, we have Steven Zahn, who is simply a weirdo.
Ashton Kutcher is his usual charming self. He portrays Peter, a businessman living in New York, who wanted to become a writer. Peter is the typical male lead in this type of movie, seen thousands of times before. He is afraid of commitment, afraid of getting hurt, thus as such he does not open himself up to the opportunity of being happy with someone. Then there is the issue that 90 per cent of the plot, his character is away from Witherspoon’s co-lead, robbing both of any sort of chemistry. He was great as a fatherly figure though!
Reese Witherspoon still has it as the cute, attractive next-door neighbour type. She is wholesome, giving her character a lot of likeability. However, just as with Kutcher, Debbie has been writing with a row of overused tropes. She is a helicopter mother, controlling every aspect of her son’s life, out of fear he could somehow get hurt. She is also overbearing to a fault at times.
Wesley Kimmel, gives possibly the best rendition, as Debbie's son Jack. His worries, fears, as well as doubts he has, are all relatable to angsty teenagers of his age. Given the fact of how controlling his mother is, he is enjoying his freedom with Peter, who shows him how to have a good time. Honestly, the scenes with Kutcher and Kimmel are the best ones!
From a technical standpoint, the imagery is sterile, nearly feeling two-dimensional. Yes, the picture is crisp, but there is no depth to what the camera captures. Colour palettes are strong, differentiating between sunny California and colder New York City. The lighting, on the other hand, is too bright. It looks decent enough, yet lacks soul. The editing overuses split screens, trying to force a feeling of connectedness between the two characters, even though geographically, they are miles apart.
Apart from some obvious green-screen backgrounds, not much else is used effect-wise. Costume design plus make-up is clichéd; either the cold, boundary-setting businessman, who is afraid of serious commitment or the single mother, who does not have the time to catch up with fashion, now wearing too much denim.
The score is forgetful and dull. Just as the screenplay, composer Siddhartha Khosla reuses similar melodies already heard in previous rom-coms. It also makes use of a string of popular soft rock songs, just like pop tunes.
Verdict: There is a reason why I am not the biggest fan of romantic comedies, and this film IS that reason! It is uninspired, clichéd, easy to foretell, as well as tremendously tedious. Everything in the narrative is derivative of thousands of similar rom-coms from the late 90s / early 2000s. There is no speck of originality, begging the question of why it got made in the first place. The dialogues are exposition heavy for no reason, as there is nothing of interest happening. Ashton Kutcher is charismatic as usual, while Reese Witherspoon is extremely cute as this single mother. The problem is, both have barely any screen time together and as such, no chemistry. The best performance is given by young Wesley Kimmel. The cinematography is standard for this type of flick, using a strong colour palette but overlit. The editing overuses split screens, while the effects offer distracting green-screen backgrounds. This is a boring, tedious attempt at bringing back the genre of a bygone era. Your Place or Mine obtains a 3.5 out of 10.
Have you seen this new Netflix release yet? What did you think? Did you like it? Leave a comment below & once again… I wish you & your loved ones a happy Valentine’s Day!