Something’s amiss in Home Again. Per its trailer, its Meyers-family pedigree, and its leading lady Reese Witherspoon, I expected it to be jam-packed with cutesy montages of Caucasian couplehood. I expected it to crackle with sexual tension between people over 40. It should have been the power-sweater-wearing love child of Big Little Lies and Something’s Gotta Give! This movie should have dazzled me. All the ingredients are there, after all: the artfully immaculate home, Witherspoon’s mischievous grin, Nancy Meyers herself as a producer. And yet, somehow, Home Again feels like a West Elm showroom: warmth-adjacent.
So what’s going on here, exactly? Why am I having trouble finding my Meyers Moment in a movie about Reese Witherspoon being fawned over by three dudes under 30 who look like they actually iron their button-downs and went right from high-school homeroom to Club Monaco, dodging Abercrombie & Fitch and that rancid cologne altogether? Why can’t I get onboard with this movie, in which Reese Witherspoon is named “Alice Kinney,” in which the boys move into Alice Kinney’s guest house, and in which Alice Kinney begins sleeping with one of them, whose name is Harry, an extremely attractive 20-something who looks like a Hillsong youth pastor?
Because therein lies Home Again’s big problem: The Hot Guy is too beautiful.
To be clear: This guy glows more than a Glossier model. Was his face created by a Pinterest algorithm? Or in the same CW lab that created Nate Archibald? He looks so downright beautiful in Home Again that I feel a little guilty for daring to write about him — for trying to type these words on my own laptop — without wearing silk gloves. He’s so pretty that his perfectly shaped ears shan’t ever hear Taylor Swift singing “Look What You Made Me Do.” I’m convinced the song would give his immaculate skin a slight pimple. It’s almost like a burly man should wordlessly pass you a business card before you dare cross Harry’s threshold: Handle with care.
In real life, this too-hot man is named Pico Alexander. And not only is Pico Alexander simply too beautiful for this movie — he’s too beautiful for the entire genre of rom-coms. Pico Alexander is not steamy hot; he’s gorgeous. Gorgeous enough to be able to pull off wearing linen. And gorgeous men are not meant for romantic comedies. Consider the genre’s stalwarts: Tom Hanks? Affable, not gorgeous. Hugh Grant? Gorgeous … hair. Matthew McConaughey? Chiseled and rugged. Mark Ruffalo is just regula degula schmegula hot. Richard Gere looks elegant, but not in a way that would make you uncomfortable if you happened to stand behind him in line at the deli. I might be able to entertain an argument that Ryan Reynolds is good-looking, but he’s not as gorgeous as Ryan Gosling, so that really settles itself. If we wanted to watch a crisp, beautiful person in love, we could skip Home Again all together and scroll through Mahershala Ali’s Instagram.
Harry’s boyish hotness messes with the formula of romantic comedies, the paint-by-numbers plotting that makes them comfortable and fun to watch. He doesn’t get to be funny or goofy, because his thing is just “being hot.” His personality begins and ends with him being a smooth talker. His date nights with Alice involve … watching old movies. (Note: not Nancy Meyers movies, which would be fine.)
The unmitigated hotness is a problem within the universe of the film itself, too. If Harry/Pico Alexander were a little bit less of a J. Crew model, maybe someone (Alice, I’m talking to you) would have noticed that there’s not a lot of there there. Harry stays out late. He bails on Alice when she invites him to a dinner party so bougie it’s not even on Pinterest, it’s on some site I’m too broke to even know about. Blowing her off is supposed to be his big crime, the thing that shows her that she left her ex for a reason, and that this tall middle-schooler is not worthy of sharing her bed or her Draper James money. But he doesn’t skip dinner for a younger woman or a Drake concert — instead, he’s busy rubbing shoulders and smoking cigars with power agents and trying to get his passion project off the ground. Alice dumps him because she had to stare desperately at an exquisite set of flatware during dinner instead of being able to show off the blazer-wearing embryo she’s smooching. It’s like Home Again couldn’t decide whether to make Harry the male lead or the guy Alice dates before she realizes a cashmere throw is enough company for lonely nights.
But let’s set aside Pico Alexander and his preternatural glimmer for a moment. Part of the brouhaha around Home Again is that it normalizes the idea of an older woman sleeping with a younger man and enjoying herself. But this already happened with more efficiency this summer in Girls Trip, in which Jada Pinkett Smith locked eyes with Kofi Siriboe (Queen Sugar) in a scene that was borderline Luhrmann-esque in its hot-guy introduction. Girls Trip went where Home Again couldn’t: It slyly exploited Siriboe as a set piece for the female gaze; it didn’t try to make him beautiful, serious, and essential to the plot.
There is plenty of room for handsome-enough-to-have-a-Pantone-color-named-after-him actors in Hollywood. (See: Hammer, Armie.) But guys as handsome as Pico Alexander are rendered flat in romantic comedies, just another piece of that beautiful Meyers scenery.