The golden age of romantic comedies is back.
In Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher’s new rom-com “Your Place or Mine,” “The Holiday” meets “When Harry Met Sally.” Written and directed by Aline Brosh McKenna, who also wrote “27 Dresses” and “The Devil Wears Prada,” the film delivers all the magic of rom-coms past.
Far from the often cringeworthy nature of its contemporaries such as “The Kissing Booth” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “Your Place or Mine” uses cliches in the best way possible. The viewer knows that the protagonists will inevitably get together, but their characters are so genuine and relatable that they cannot wait to accompany them on the journey.
The film begins with a one-night stand between Peter (Kutcher) and Debbie (Witherspoon) in their early 20s. The film then fast-forwards 20 years: The two appear to be talking in bed together, but the camera zooms out to reveal that the screen is split. Debbie and Peter are each in their respective beds. Debbie is in Los Angeles, and Peter is in Brooklyn (with another woman). The film reveals that even though nothing else romantic transpired between them in the last decades, the two have been long-distance best friends while leading nearly polar-opposite lives for years.
Debbie is a stay-at-home single mom with a passion for her son Jack’s (Wesley Kimmel) safety and a disciplined daily routine. Meanwhile, Peter is a struggling writer-turned-marketing-mogul who cannot maintain a relationship for more than six months.
Despite their differences, the two share a close bond and tell each other everything — much to the chagrin of Peter's partners. In the movie’s first scenes, Peter’s current girlfriend pours herself a cup of coffee and gets ready for work, all while Peter and Debbie are on the phone planning Debbie’s visit to New York. He has offered her a place to stay while she completes an accounting program to get a better-paying job.
When his girlfriend breaks off their relationship, Peter does not seem particularly bothered. But he is upset when he learns Debbie is thinking about canceling the trip after her babysitter bails. Immediately, Peter offers to look after Jack in L.A. while Debbie stays at his place to take her classes.
Trading homes allows the characters to get to know not only themselves better, but one another as well. In New York, Debbie explores romantic pursuits she would never have dared to in L.A. and lets herself lean into her lifelong dream of working in publishing. Meanwhile, Peter stops trying to apply the marketing strategies of his job to real life. He realizes that he can’t buy friends and instead embraces his position as a role model for Jack. He admits to himself that he has always had feelings for Debbie but has been too afraid to tell her.
“Your Place or Mine” felt all the more personal for viewers who have followed Witherspoon and Kutcher’s respective careers. These rom-com veterans brought with them all of the experience and maturity they gained from previous projects. Their characters felt like authentic people and not merely a performance.
Like the rom-coms of decades past, “Your Place or Mine” ends with a public declaration of love in the middle of an airport and the couple living happily ever after. Although it is predictable, this movie portrays a genuine, mature kind of love, teaching the viewer that it’s never too late to pursue a dream or confess what they really feel.