Why Hollywood Needs Some Romance Writers


deceptively prominent Nancy placement

Took myself off with much anticipation to see the latest offering by Reese Witherspoon, called Home Again, about a 40yo single mother learning to live and love again and all that shit I adore the fuck out of. I adore the fuck outta RW as well because she’s smart and funny and cute and SHORT (just like MEEEEEEE of course), runs her own production company, is fighting for more roles for women in Hollywood, and in this is playing a part where she acts her age (or close to it), which HALLELUJA means it’s a role for an ‘older’ woman in Hollywood, that rarest of all gems, the likes of which we usually only see when Diane Keaton dons a turtle neck and does her adorably neurotic schtick. I want to SUPPORT these kinds of movies, people, so more of them will get made, more women will be given further chances to make more of these films and eventually, please please, we can change the nature, or at least the sheer number, of misogynistic offerings coming out of action-obsessed, sequel-obsessed, Weinstein-esque, sexually compromised, male-gazing tawdry Tinsel Town.

But girls. GIRLS. I’m sad to say this ‘aint the film to do it.

Nancy Myers’s (It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give) name is featured prominently on the movie poster to FOOOL US ALLLLLL Y’ALLL, because I auto corrected in my head that Nancy Myers also wrote and directed Home Again, when in fact she merely produced this movie for her screenwriter/director daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer. So basically Nancy Myers financed her daughter’s flick here, and probably convinced Reese to be involved although I’m sure Reese musta given the script a bit of side eye, especially around the middle part which was saggier than a middle aged woman’s stretchy pants after the elastic has started to give the hell up (I can say this, being a middle aged woman who has challenged her share of elastic waists in recent years). Nancy has a lot of clout, and I’ve got no problem with her helping out her kid to get a film made. It happens all the time in the boy’s club, so why not? I only wish she’d given Hallie a bit of instruction on how to best write and direct a film of this magnitude, or at least made her go make a couple of indies first to get her feet wet, because this thing was SLOW and I have to say BORING for the most part, at times mind-bogglingly unbelievable and over all just very….white. I don’t know how else to say it. This is a film about rich white people with zero problems who have a whole bunch of okay things happen to them and then that’s … it.

Look at you, Reece Robinson

What we needed here, if I may rewrite this script in my own image, is some high stakes. We have Reese (God I can’t even remember her character’s name…ALICE! Jeez. You know I had to look that up and I saw this movie TODAY). We have Alice separated from her husband and moving home again (roll credits), which I mistakenly assumed meant she would have to live with her mother (Candace Bergen, who I wanna say was called…Lilian?) due to some financial crisis, which is how things would go down when any normal low to middle class woman would leave an irresponsible husband to start over, IF you’re lucky enough to have a mother like Candace Bergen waiting around to help you at all. But no, Alice moves back ‘home’ to her father’s inexplicably empty, palatial Los Angeles bungalow which is totes cute and tres roomy, so roomy it can house 3 hot up-and-coming movie makers in the guest house. Don’t ask me how she meets the hot guys, it’s cliché, but suffice to say if I went to a bar to get messy because I just turned 40 and got separated, all I’d come home with is a case of explosive projectile vomiting and maybe a notice to appear in court. But because Alice has a charmed existence, she ends up with 3 hot guys, none of whom has a drug habit and one of whom is 27 and finds her 40 yo ass irresistibly sex-aaaay (not saying 27 yo guys never find 40yo women sexy, but I am saying it’s rarer than this film made it seem, what with the very first guy Alice hooks up with since she left her husband being a sexy hornbag who loves stretch marks I guess. That’s convenient, like so much else in Alice’s life, like the fact she still looks cute and can do laundry with a hangover).

I won’t go into endless details about the plot. Not because it’ll spoil anything in this largely predictable story, but because you’ll all fall asleep if you haven’t already zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The abridged version is

  • Separated lady trying to decide if she’s ready for divorce

    the not that terrible ex gets breakkie. bec he’s not that terrible

  • Cute perfect kids are cute and perfect
  • Adorably irresponsible ex-husband wants her back now that she’s got other offers (of course)
  • She’s trying to start a business but sucks at it so bad she never even put together a website until the nerdiest looking of the hot guys does it for her
  • Lake Bell is mildly amusing in her bit
  • Separated lady is way too trusting with her dad’s car and other stuff like her FUCKING KIDS who she just leaves with these dudes she just met
  • Alice gets drunk a few times
  • Has affair. Ends affair. Is only mildly disappointed.
  • 3 hot guys are so fucking nice it’s just…. Not realistic. Sorry. Realism is when you break up with your 27yo fling who’s used to women falling at him, he storms out like a baby and probably calls you a cunt

Wikipedia says that Myers-Shyer went to script writing school but maybe she slept through the bits about dramatic tension and making your characters relatable. All she’d have to do was make SOMETHING sorta IMPORTANT happen in Alice’s life, make things VITAL. Like maybe she doesn’t have the money to just start her fluffy design business that has exactly one client, and she has to get a lowly receptionist or waitressing job, or like her ex is a total fucking douchebag who is making things super difficult, and not just kinda eye-rollingly irritating in a ‘boy I still kinda love him but he’s just not what I need’ way. Make her affair with Harry the Hottie MEAN SOMETHING, like maybe he falls in love with her actually and isn’t just this underinvested Harry Styles look alike with enough integrity to apologize for his mistakes in a manner beyond his  years. Maybe Alice gets pregnant by him (OH MAN THAT WOULDA BEEN INTERESTING), or maybe the lackluster hint that Hottie Number 2 George was also into Alice coulda actually gone somewhere. Jesus, even Alice’s 13yo has precisely ZERO ATTITUDE even though her mum’s just moved her across the country and is divorcing her much loved dad, but no. Other than asking for Xanax (because ‘all the kids do it’ WTF AMERICAN TEENAGERS?), she’s just super cool with leaving her dad and living with a bunch of random other dudes now, one of which is boning her mum.

Alice makes cute picture boards for 1 client and has no money worries

The more I type, the more I realize this movie is UTTER BULLSHIT and proof that there is a reason people complain about nepotism. Because sometimes the really great film maker’s daughter is just kinda lazy and shit and too privileged to write about what it might actually be like to have to divorce your husband and start again for a live, normal person with complex, emotionally difficult problems. Alice’s biggest problem is where to put her father’s fucking OSCAR. My GOD. This writer grew up with rich, successful Hollywood parents and obvs has no idea how to see, let alone create, beyond that experience and that is just…lame.

So. I, as a romance author, solemnly swear that I, or any of my good romance writer friends, could have corrected the lethargic, tedious, improbable script that became this movie with a few harried strokes of a little red pen and one drunken brainstorming session with a reasonably intelligent baboon.

Do better next time, ladies


4 thoughts on “Why Hollywood Needs Some Romance Writers

  1. Sandra

    My issue is with that ‘ol stinky chestnut that refuses to pair 40 year-old Alice (or any woman past 40) with someone age appropriate, instead of a kid half her age. A similarly-aged love interest would have been a hell of a lot more realistic than three 20-somethings drooling over her. It was a lost opportunity to be different.


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