"Your Place or Mine," Netflix's latest reminder that the streamer is the home of those churned-out rom-coms that used to dominate the multiplex, was voted in the top 50 films of the year. More like it are in short supply in Aline Brosh McKenna's feature documentary debut, which soon succumbs to very predictable tropes and tricks.
That is, oddly enough, not a knock on the film, since it is a genre that lives and dies by how enjoyable and comfortable it is for cinematic consumption. Nothing is more terrifying than the unknowable. Tropes and predictable plotlines are the meat and potatoes of the rom-com, but there isn't a need for these films to be without conflict, without a little uncertainty, and without the worry that happily ever after will come.
Debbie (Reese Witherspoon) and Peter (Ashton Kutcher) are meant to be together. After all, these are two people who seem to like each other in a different way in the first 20 years of their relationship. Come on!
McKenna, best known for spooky rom-com classics like "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and "The Devil Wears Prada," is sure to have a good time in her first film (she also wrote the screenplay), before slapping us with the truth (uh, they are not). While smooth-talking Peter has now moved to New York City (where he loves to never commit to anyone or anything), Debbie remains alive and well in the exact same
"Your Place or Mine"
Netflix's Erin Simkin
Debbie and Peter have made a lot of adjustments in their adult lives. Hell, they've made substantial concessions. When Peter got married a few years after her Peter dalliance, she decided to dedicate herself to fostering a safe marriage (read: she sure as hell didn't stay with his mountain climber dad, and she tossed her own goals of becoming a book editor in favor of a small accounting job). Oh, and what is the difference between the two?
Debbie is on a one-week-only (??) accounting course that will give her a brand-new job (??), where she plans to see her old pal Peter. Too bad her ditzy babysitter (Brosh McKenna's "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" partner Rachel Bloom) has just signed on for a role that, oopsie, will take her out of town just when Debbie needs her to watch her shy son Jack (the very cute Wesley Kimmel)
Brosh McKenna's desire to use this (quite vexing) tactic to enliven Debbie and Peter's bond is quite amusing. It's also a chance to uncover some valuable secrets, which, again, are at odds with each other.
“Your Place or Mine?”
Netflix's Erin Simkin
Debbie and Peter become more adamant about Jack's dismal social life, while Debbie soon falls in with Peter's hilarious ex Minka (Zoe Chao, who deserves a spinoff right now, please and thank you) — and they begin to feel more like, well, more like, the people they were when they first met.
Add to that a handsome Jesse Williams, a literal book manuscript shoved into an oven, and we've got enough conflict and worry to keep "Your Place or Mine" going until its inevitable conclusion. But when Brosh McKenna finally brings rom-com veterans Witherspoon and Kutcher together IRL (for an airport-set love declaration, of course), we're reminded why these things work so well, and how wonderful it was to receive that gift from a mile (or 20 years)
On Friday, February 10, "Your Place or Mine" will be available on Netflix.