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Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon's 'Your Place Or Mine' Is Pure Trash

By Petr Navovy | Film | February 11, 2023 |

By Petr Navovy | Film | February 11, 2023 |


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More than almost any other genre, romcoms can survive purely on the strength of the chemistry between the leads. The writing can be hacky, the direction uninspired, the substance minimal—if there are sparks around the central pair then almost everything else can be forgiven. We’re there to delight in the joy and the sheer sense of fun that romance can bring to human beings, to revel in the joie de vivre that actors can portray so convincingly and that reminds us of the sense of sheer possibility that a new romance can spark.

Some good words in that paragraph there.

‘Joy.’

‘Fun.’

‘Romance.’

‘Chemistry.’

Not one of these words, or any of their synonyms, can be applied to Your Place Or Mine, the new Netflix ‘romcom’ featuring the haunted husks of Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon wandering purposelessly around the lifeless simulacra of New York and Los Angeles, delivering pointless dialogue with zero conviction until the film blessedly decides to end after an excruciating and unforgivable hour and fifty minutes. The film has a synopsis—two people who once hooked up but then decided to be friends instead realize that maybe they might feel something for each other after all—but honestly who gives a sh*t? The cast definitely don’t seem to.

There was a meme going around on Twitter recently that poked fun at Kutcher and Witherspoon’s lifeless red carpet appearances promoting the movie, comparing them to other film couples that, by contrast, brought smolder and put on a show of passion while doing the same for their projects (we’re looking at you, Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain). It turns out Kutcher and Witherspoon were trying to warn us. ‘Don’t watch this film! Look, here’s an impression of our performances in it, and of the atmosphere and quality of the film overall.’ I wish I’d heeded the signs.

This is the director’s first feature, so a part of me wants to be more forgiving in my assessment here, but I’m honestly struggling to be. Your Place Or Mine is a bad movie. Really bad. There is a brief spark of some character and energy in the intro sequence—a flashback to 2003 that comments on the era with onscreen captions (‘It’s 2003. How can we tell? Trucker hat. Wallet chain. So many layered shirts’)—but even that meager attempt at something fizzles out and loses faith in itself before it even gets going. The rest of the film feels like it was written and shot by an AI. And not some hypothetical future AI that has got its sh*t together. No, current AI—one that doesn’t understand that jokes are meant to have punchlines, and be delivered with some inflection maybe, or rhythm; that editing is supposed to serve a purpose; that human beings emote when they feel stuff; and that you don’t waste Steve Zahn on a nothing role in a nothing film.

I didn’t laugh once in this movie. A shadow of the memory of the rumor of a smile never once threatened to appear on my face. I frowned when I saw the New York apartment that Kutcher’s character lives in—opulent in that sterile way popular in romcoms, to a degree ludicrous even for the genre’s heightened realities—and I screwed up my features in confusion whenever there was a close up or medium shot of Kutcher, his acting in this movie never once rising above the equivalent of a shrug. To be fair to him, I’d probably do the same with the material I’d been given.

The most—sorry, only—distinctive thing about Your Place Or Mine is the repeated use of the music of The Cars. There’s a plot-related reason for that, though the film doesn’t seem to care enough to really do anything with it, but a number of the band’s greatest hits soundtrack the ‘action’ here. To which I could only think: Why? What have The Cars done to deserve to be spliced to this listless, shambling corpse of a movie?