Your Place or Mine is a sweet romantic comedy from writer turned director Aline Brosh McKenna, featuring a charming cast and an unexpected co-lead pairing in Reece Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher. The familiar faces star opposite one another as best friends who change each other’s lives when they do a house swap. Debbie wants to further her studies, prompting Peter to offer up his modern apartment in New York and childminding services to her son Jack in Los Angeles.
The “unexpected” dynamic actually helps inform the relationship, limiting expectations and giving the characters the space to grow closer as a love-in-later-life story plays out. Drawing both stars out of the shadows, it’s quite refreshing to see them on screen again, delivering the kind of performances we’ve come to expect. While their star power and charm is the main reason to see this romcom, it’s further enhanced by the presence of the suave Jesse Williams as Theo and hilarious Zoe Chao as Minka. Wesley Kimmel’s sweet and unobtrusive presence as Jack makes him Robin to Kutcher’s Batman, while Tig Notaro seems a bit miscast and at odds in spite of a funny turn.
Aline Brosh McKenna is a seasoned screenwriter, whose writing credits include: The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses, Morning Glory and We Bought a Zoo. Delivering her feature film debut in Your Place or Mine, it’s far from bad and yet also far from great. The story’s concept aims for the realm of Nora Ephron, offering a modern take on a long distance relationship through social media, yet reclaiming some sentimental scrapbook charm in the process. It’s tricky getting actors to have chemistry “over the phone” but it mostly works, making up the difference with the big brother style bonding.
“We’re all alright.”
It’s unusual for this kind of gentle, sweet romantic comedy to even exist by today’s standards. Delving into the kindness of good friends, exploring the what-if possibilities of pathways not taken and the romantic notions of “penpals” in the modern age, Your Place or Mine has some fairly noble romantic aspirations. While this may prove to be cloying for the more cynical at heart, the curious tension of rekindling an old flame in a long distance capacity helps temper its overabundance of faith in the inherent kindness of humanity. Steve Zahn’s nutty vibrations also go some way to offset any overt mushiness.
A more dramatic take co-starring One Fine Day’s Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney 20 years ago would have been worthy of more critical acclaim, yet this cute movie is only concerned with keeping things light and breezy. Set to the music of The Cars, there’s a healthy dose of nostalgia and while not quite Uncle Buck funny, it’s amusing to have a slick guy trying to win the cool “uncle” approval of the kid he’s trying to look after. Ultimately, Your Place or Mine is sweet and delightful enough to serve as a welcome distraction with its old school romance and quirky comedy.
The bottom line: Sweet