It is never good for a film to talk more about its external details than about its script or the performance of its cast. Just happened with “your house or mine”, the new romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher on Netflix. And it is that, the film directed by Aline Brosh McKenna had not even been released and we already had dozens of headlines questioning why during the red carpet the actors posed so “separated” and with a grim gesture, when in an event of this type the norm indicates that everything should be laughter and hugs.
Kutcher has taken pains to clarify that there are no quarrels with Witherspoon. For the 45-year-old actor, the media are never satisfied. “If he hugged her, they were going to say we had an affair. If she put her hand in my pockets, they’d say we’re in a fight. Come on, we’re great friends! We were taking photos for 20 minutes. If in all that time one of you does not make an uncomfortable face, then you are better than me, ”he complained.
Now, if today we are still talking about that red carpet, is it because we are looking at a bad movie? Next, we will discuss some of the reasons that make this romantic comedy perhaps the biggest disappointment of the 2023 Valentine’s season.
At nearly 110 minutes long, “your house or mine” introduces us to Debbie (Reese Witherspoon) and Peter (Ashton Kutcher), two old friends who in 2003 (yes, that’s how descriptive the film is) had a kind of ‘hit and run’. From that meeting, two decades later (2023) only friendship seems to remain. In those twenty years that have elapsed, each one has made his life kilometers away. She became a mother to a teenager (Jack/Wesley Kimmel) in Los Angeles and he became a wealthy consultant who lives – couple to couple – in a condominium in New York.
If something seeks to make Aline Brosh McKenna’s proposal clear, it is that Debbie and Peter became inseparable friends. So, neither she nor he stop telling each other absolutely everything that happens to them on a daily basis. In this initial description of the characters (and their bond) two abrupt events anticipate changes: he has just been abandoned by a woman who cannot bear not being ‘formalized’ yet, and she is preparing to travel to New York to pay a test of professional specialization.
It would be difficult to establish an exact point from which the facts in this romantic comedy seem light to us. He wakes up with a woman and two minutes later she is there she leaves him. She has a babysitter ready for Jack and he suddenly cancels due to a personal matter. So the consultant offers to travel to Los Angeles to take care of his friend’s child. So, you look at your cell phone, and suddenly Peter is already entering Debbie’s house to ‘babysit’ for seven days.
Another detail that quickly jumps out is the variety of secondary characters that contribute little or nothing to the film. The most notorious is Zen (Steve Zahn), Debbie’s neighbor who plays the role of ‘Zen gardener’ in 2/3 of the film only to reveal in the last stage that he is attracted to her. The revelation is absurd, not only because we have all already witnessed that Debbie looks at him as if he were another plant in her garden, but mainly because it does not contribute anything if the intention was to present us with an “obstacle” for her possible relationship. with Peter. In itself, the profile of the character played by Zahn seems more in keeping with an Adam Sandler comedy.
Along the same lines we can find Minka (Zoe Chao), an ex-girlfriend of Peter who suddenly breaks into his house half naked while Debbie is staying there and ends up acting as his counselor, although without much success, of course. Then there’s Theo Martin (Jesse Williams), a prestigious book publisher who seems 2% interested in books (“My assistant read the manuscript and told me it was good”) and 98% interested in sleeping with Debbie. On the other hand, and perhaps in a different situation, is Alicia (Tig Notaro), an old friend of Peter and Debbie who, more than advising them, listens and from time to time offers an insightful opinion. Without as much arrangement and color as the actors previously described, this one stands on its own.
When we talked about humor above, we mentioned the faded neighbor Zen. But this is by no means the only failed attempt to make us laugh. Peter and Debbie often suffer the same fate. The character played by Kutcher seems at times a kind of Kelso (the young man he played in That 70’s Show), but with his hands tied and speaking in a low voice. Maybe when he interacts with Jack we get to see some of his best moments, but soon everything goes back to normal.
On Debbie’s side the problem is more evident. The essence of her character, an orderly, strict and overprotective woman of her only son, fades as the days go by and, between flirting with the editor, classes she doesn’t even pay attention to or exams she never studied for, she ends up becoming another character, one that rather makes us question whether an Oscar winner like Reese Witherspoon has been choosing her projects correctly.
In the utterly predictable, Peter and Jack strike up amazing chemistry (although there’s only one hug in the entire film) for seven days, Debbie realizes she has no feelings for the handsome editor, etc. In itself, (almost) everything in “your house or mine” goes the way of what is expected. We are, therefore, before a flat proposal that wastes its most precious input: the capacity of its main actors. Because the Ashton Kutcher we see here is not even half of the one we saw in “The Butterfly Effect” or even in “Jobs”, and the Reese Witherspoon we have on screen is miles from the June Carter in “Johnny and June: passion and madness” or at least the endearing Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde”, a ‘reference’ if the idea is to take the comparison to the level of commercial cinema.
YOUR HOUSE OR MINE/ NETFLIX
Director: Aline Brosh McKenna
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Ashton Kutcher
Synopsis: Best friends (and polar opposites) Debbie and Peter swap houses for a week, and what they discover about their lives could open the doors to love.
I have worked as a journalist for over 10 years and have written for various news outlets. I currently work as an author at 24 News Recorder, mostly covering entertainment news. I have a keen interest in the industry and enjoy writing about the latest news and gossip. I am also a member of the National Association of Journalists.