Two long-distance best friends change each other’s lives when she decides to pursue a lifelong dream and he volunteers to keep an eye on her teenage son.
I often say that I suffer so you don’t have to as far as sitting through bad movies is concerned. I do it, mostly with little complaint, as my mind can keep itself occupied. There are “To-Do” lists I can make, memories I can recall and, when I’m fortunate enough to watch a film at home, there’s the internet to surf or our dog Lucy to talk to. There are many ways to get through a bad movie. However, there are some – and they are thankfully rare – where I am so stupefied by the sheer ineptitude of what I am seeing that I can’t look away.
Such is the case with Aline Brosh McKenna’s staggeringly bad “Your Place or Mine,” a so-called romcom that’s far too light on both the rom and the com. Reese Witherspoon is Debbie, a California-based teacher who is best friends with Peter (Ashton Kutcher), a Manhattanite financial advisor. They hooked up once 20 years ago, knew romance was not in the cards yet remained the best of buds through her own marriage, the birth of her son Jack (Wesley Kimmel, who does a fine job) and her subsequent divorce. Over the same period, Peter has bounced from one relationship to the next, built a successful career and quietly pursued his true passion, writing. Seems as though Debbie has an educational seminar to attend in New York City and has no babysitter, while Peter is between clients. So, he decides to jet out to the West Coast to take care of Jack, while she stays at his tony digs. They meet each other’s friends, uncover secrets about one another and…well, you know…
There is simply no life to this film; there’s a blandness in its execution that makes Wonder Bread seem dynamic. McKenna, making her feature film debut directing her own script, fails to inspire any sense of energy in any of the scenes, which leads to boredom and the viewer’s part and the time to pick at her screenplay’s many shortcomings. Other than Witherspoon, who tries too hard, her veteran cast does her no favors; Tig Notaro doesn’t try to hide her disdain with her flat line readings, Steve Zahn plays Steve Zahn and Kutcher is…I’m trying to find the words…incompetent? Obvious? A cypher? The guy’s as wooden as a fencepost. He’s so stiff he could be used as a floatation device. Kutcher has…you get the idea. Please, please do not let my suffering be in vain. With the two hours I’ve saved you do something useful; contact an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while; spend time with your family; arrange your stamp collection; clips your toenails. Believe me, doing nearly anything else is better than sitting through this woeful sub-mediocre effort.