Your Place or Mine features a greatest hits CD worth of tracks by The Cars while the movie never kicks into high gear. It never totally sputters either. Keeping the leads about 2800 miles apart for the vast duration might give off Sleepless in Seattle vibes, but you’ve got chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan that surpasses that of Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher.
We meet Debbie (Witherspoon) and Peter (Kutcher) in 2003. He’s sporting a wallet chain and she’s in a WonderBra on the night they hook up after a crazy game of poker. The romance ceases after night one though they don’t lose it all. What follows is a close 20-year platonic relationship. He’s on the East Coast where his flings never exceed the six month mark. She’s on the West Coast with her teenage son (Wesley Kimmel). Her mountain climbing ex-hubby is off climbing mountains while her zany next door neighbor and part-time gardener (Steve Zahn) is always hanging around. A helicopter mom, Debbie is finally convinced to take her own flight to Brooklyn to complete a week-long accounting course. Peter hits L.A. to watch the kid.
Staying at each other’s abodes gives them fresh insights. They pride their friendship on being completely honest. It turns out this isn’t the case in ways large and small. Peter hasn’t completely given up his young 20s dream of being a novelist. Of course, the biggest diversion from the whole truth is they are madly in love and can’t admit it. I don’t think we need a SPOILER ALERT. They both try to avoid it. Debbie, with assistance from Peter’s ex-flame (Zoë Chao, quite funny), meets a dreamy publisher (Jesse Williams) for her first flirtation in some time. Meanwhile her babysitter’s best friend (the always game Tig Notaro) serves as Peter’s sounding board.
The directorial debut of Aline Brosh McKenna, she’s no stranger to writing hits in the genre like The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses. 2003, shortly before those rom com entries, is about when Witherspoon and Kutcher were starting their known features in the field (Sweet Home Alabama for her, Just Married for him). It’s a tad surprising they never teamed up before.
Your Place or Mine imagines a glossy scenario where their version of happily ever after is delayed a couple of decades. The long wait includes the inability to truly judge their chemistry as the bulk of their interactions is via calls and texts. Contrary to The Cars songs that play, I guess it’s not what we needed and there’s scant magic. You might think it’s average at best.
** (out of four)