Your Place or Mine REVIEW – A Rom-Com Slog

When a rom-com reminds of your old favourites and doesn't inspire anything on its own, that's not good news.

Your Place or Mine
Your Place or Mine

Your Place or Mine isn’t the most unique movie to walk the earth. It has the classic best friends to lovers trope, with two friends who have been friends for years and love everything about each other, though they’re not together romantically. But that’s okay, most romances function on certain tropes, so the film just has to make sure it does the heavy lifting and show us why this pair should be together. Your Place or Mine missed this opportunity, because the romantic leads spend most of the movie in different locations, and while this isn’t necessarily detrimental — Sleepless in Seattle is a perfect example of how rom-com leads in two different settings can work — the film thinks that all is needed to spark romance is a couple of witty conversations via phone calls.

Ashton Kutcher plays Peter, a commitment-phobe who drops his girlfriends 6 months after dating. He has the same energy towards his work, reluctant to put down roots anywhere, only taking on short-term projects that have a clear expiry date. The one thing he’s committed to for a great span of time is his best friend Debbie (Reese Witherspoon), whom he’s known for 20 years. The film begins on the pair having a hook-up in the 2000s, a scene so brief and shot mostly in the dark so that they wouldn’t have to de-age the actors. This is what I mean when I say that the film sets itself up for failure. How are we supposed to root for them when we’re not given any proper reasons? The scene is so rushed that there’s barely any time to establish romantic chemistry, and we’re immediately propelled into the future where they live in separate spaces.

It’s a good thing that more films are being made about mature couples, just last month we had Shotgun Wedding with Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel. It also helps that the actors at the centre of these films are rom-com experts. Both Witherspoon and Kutcher have starred in their fair share of romance movies, and have enough charisma to carry a film. So why was I not as invested? Well, Peter and Debbie’s arcs aren’t exactly balanced. Peter spends most of his time with Debbie’s son Jack (Wesley Kimmel), and is taking care of him in L.A while Debbie does her school thing in New York.

Kutcher and Kimmel don’t have much chemistry together, and their scenes together are a slog to get through. It needed something more, like the energy Ryan Reynolds had with Walker Scobell in The Adam Project. Just because Jack’s a bit of an outsider at school doesn’t mean his character needs to be a snooze-fest.

Debbie’s arc flows a little better, mainly because of Zoe Chao, who does such a great job as Minka. Despite Minka being one of Peter’s former girlfriends, she’s friendly and nice to Debbie, going as far as to be her wingwoman for the gorgeous Theo Martin (Jesse Williams). Unfortunately, there isn’t much spark in that relationship as well. Listen, as a Lit major, I probably love books more than the average viewer, but no book lover talks about books like that, or has the ability to name drop a book and the other person immediately knows everything about said book. That’s not real. Watch Fire Island for a movie that handles a conversation about books so much better.

And so we arrive at the root of this movie’s issue: it reminds us of other superior rom-coms, giving us nothing of substance on its own. Even Steve Zahn, who’s just one of the funniest, most charismatic actors, is severely underused in this movie.

Do yourself a favour this Valentine’s day and watch one of your old, favourite rom-coms instead, because this will not satisfy.

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Your Place or Mine
Despite stars like Witherspoon and Kutcher, this Netflix rom-com is missing some much-needed spark.