Your Place Or Mine Review: A Misguided Twist On The Rom-Com That Fails To Find Its Central Chemistry

It's not easy to reinvent the wheel, which is why very few end up succeeding at the attempt. Romantic comedies have been twisted and pulled, molded and reshaped into as many new versions as possible — as with any genre — in an effort to find the next story that feels real. Netflix's new star-studded rom-com "Your Place Or Mine" tries its hand at changing the game, but it ends up being more forgettable than monumental overall because of a few key faults. That said, it's not a romantic comedy you need to throw in the trash, and it's certainly worth a watch whenever you're feeling for something cute and lighthearted. The stakes aren't very high in this film, and there are a few cardinal cinema sins at work here, but overall, "Your Place Or Mine" ends up being a decent time by coasting on its merits. When it's strong, it's pretty strong—and when it's not, it shows.

"Your Place Or Mine" charts the friendship of Debbie (Witherspoon) and Peter (Kutcher), a duo who have known each other since their early 20s. Despite their stark differences as people — and a one-time past hookup in the beginning of their camaraderie — they've managed to stay close and tell each other everything over the years. But when a few extraneous life circumstances have them switching homes and lives for a week, they each realize they've kept more from each other than they ever thought, and it makes them realize how much they actually need one another.

Where's the chemistry?

Both Witherspoon and Kutcher are hilarious and sweet, but they don't have a ton of chemistry when we finally get them in a room together. Maybe that's why this film is full of phone calls and not physical conversations and confrontation. They each have enough charisma on their own to sustain their parts separately, and it's only just obvious that they don't have a ton of believable romantic attraction to one another—but they're also some of the more famous "movie stars" we've got, so they know how to do their job. So it certainly isn't as unbearable as it could be, but it isn't nearly as electric and satisfying as some of the better rom-com couples have been over the years. That's kind of a major bummer, considering that's what we're here for when we turn on a rom-com, but there are other positives that somewhat make up for this hefty transgression.

Supporting performances and smart editing

However, the supporting performances — especially that of Zoë Chao, who plays Peter's hilarious and fierce ex-girlfriend, and Tig Notaro, who plays Debbie's best friend and work confidant — do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the comedy that actually lands in this movie. They keep the film afloat, and the "com" part of "rom-com" rests almost solely on their backs. They get the truly laugh-out-loud moments of the movie, and they, actually, feel like they have more depth than the lead characters themselves. This isn't necessarily a fault in the writing, as Debbie and Peter's backstory is such a crucial part of their story. It's not like audiences aren't learning about them, but the supporting characters like Chao and Notaro feel much more specific and unique as personalities. It's interesting, considering that the film on the whole does have a lot of specificity within its story, but it just doesn't feel as strong with the central players and their narrative.

Visual devices like split-screen are employed often throughout this film to illustrate both how close and far apart the two main characters actually are from one another, emotionally and physically. It's a clever allusory device as well as a great way to keep the audience's eye entertained. It automatically makes the lighthearted film feel more fun, and it's exciting to see something a little different done with a film's camera and editing work—even if what it's doing isn't exactly groundbreaking. The film has a great soundtrack, and it's hard to not be won over by the earworms that underscore the film's punchy montages and set-piece moments. The selections help set the film's somewhat quirky and vibrant tone, especially where the comedy and the characters slack.

Lacking the rom-com essential

Ultimately, "Your Place Or Mine" is a perfectly fine romantic comedy that has its high and low points. Witherspoon and Kutcher are just fine in their roles, spending nearly the entire movie apart from one another and depriving audiences of the typical rom-com tension build-up that has become a standard in the genre. It isn't necessarily a bad thing to go this route, but the version "Your Place Or Mine" chooses to employ doesn't serve to keep tensions high and, in turn, keep the narrative exciting the whole way through. It has its strong suits, but "Your Place Or Mine" doesn't take stock of one of the most important tenets of romance: physical connection, and that certainly becomes the movie's central downfall. It's not one to totally avoid, but hopefully, the next time a giant studio takes a chance on a star-driven romantic comedy — something that, frankly, we're sorely lacking nowadays compared to the early aughts and 1990s rom-com heydays — it will at least involve two people who have some palpable chemistry.

/Film Rating: 4.5 out of 10