While as romantic comedy it doesn’t break with tradition – it is still a surprisingly sweet and well-meaning film that provides a bit of escapism.
Arriving just in time for Valentine’s Day, Your Place or Mine may not break any new ground in the romantic comedy genre – but it does have enough charm provided by its leading cast to make you root for them to figure out how they feel about each other.
Twenty years ago, Debbie and Peter had a one night stand that eventually just led them to being platonic friends, living in New York and LA respectively. Debbie is a single mum who is by her own admission is a very practical person who is very protective of her son Jack who has all kinds of allergies. In contrast Peter is more relaxed and on many levels less responsible. But when Debbie has to go to new York and is let down by her babysitter, Peter offers to come and stay in LA and look after Jack while she heads off to New York. But during this week, they discover a lot more then they were expecting about each other and starts to unlock feelings that they didn’t know they had.
Written and directed by Aline Brosh McKenna, Your Place or Mine has many of the aspects that fans of romantic comedies love – the quirky friends, the moments of conflict and of course the expected happy ever after ending. The script offers Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher plenty of banter, particularly during the early scenes which is great – but given the fact they don’t share much actual screen time together, it feels as though the romantic feelings aren’t quite allowed to blossom in the way it could. This being said, there is still a suggestion of just how good the chemistry could be if both actors were shown together more.
There are elements of the film that bring The Holiday to mind (a single parent trying to get a balance of life away from child and the house swapping), but where Your Place or Mine differs is that it doesn’t tug on the heartstrings the way it should – although I loved seeing the way in which Peter bonds with Jack and tries to get him coming out of his shell. It is a fun but casual watch that could just use a bit more oomph about it to make it feel completely satisfying.
Through every moment in the film, you are never in doubt that Debbie and Peter are meant to be together – and although it would be lovely to have more of a build up to the finale, it is a nicely paced film that really allows you to immerse yourselves in the characters and the individual journeys that they go on.
Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon suit their characters really well, with Witherspoon offering a quirky charm as Debbie – really capturing her character’s road to blossoming and relaxing her attitude to life in many ways, while Kutcher offers a lovely vulnerability to Peter that means you can’t help but warm to him.
Overall, it is a gentle and entertaining film that fans of romantic comedies will appreciate but just needs a little more heart to make it completely satisfying.
By Emma Clarendon
Your Place or Mine is available on Netflix now.