When your mom is Nancy Meyers, depending on how you view her, either the romantic comedy gargoyle projecting volcanic wrath causing the death of cinema on every film post Parent Trap or that lady who makes nice movies you love starring Instagram-filter-blindingly-white Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel furniture sets as leads against human supporting casts like Diane Keaton playing brainless parodies of talented Hollywood types, and her films are soooooo nice, so Pinterest, so....
OK, clearly, I should rephrase this because all of you can guess how I really feel about Nancy Meyers films. Generally, I believe they’re tremendous wastes of talent, herself included, in making what could be the most cliched of all Lifetime movies you only think are amazing when drunk at three in the morning into theatrical releases. The Parent Trap worked because it more or less was a cue card ready remake of the 1960’s Hayley Mills original with some stellar actors signed on for the 90’s remix. Nancy Meyers movies are like Talbots clothing. Neither exciting nor classic. They exist in the blandest form appealing to the most amount of people and basically service running when you need to bleach your teeth at home for a good twenty minutes, but bored, needing something to watch.
Hate me? Fine. I’m speaking whatever everyone I ever meet feels I agree on. More simply, few other than maybe Quentin Tarantino openly discuss which movies fail them as thinking individuals. Yeah, many don’t because they’re men who feel too old to hop on social media or think running a website is too much work when it’s really not. Having a web diary like this if anything helps the greater film world discussion, I say! Mr. Tarantino does go on shows when he’s not promoting anything and really speak his mind. Please, some of you out there, speak your minds on film starting right now!
This post #metoo time period feels like yes, we can empower male and female victims of abuse thank goodness for that, however, we have to now cherish every female driven project ever made because it’s made by women. As someone with a female stamp when I was born and F on my IDs, please know I’m crying out for help, someone in Hollywood, please make challenging material for women. Movies like Home Again are what people are told sell to female audiences or should star women. Women deserve more. Better. And on the subject of movies like Home Away, when was the last time a lazy romcom ever starred a rich black woman? Never. Nancy Meyers movies and their copies don’t star black people as leads. Or anyone, I think. The Parent Trap may have had one black girl as a camp extra. I’m not kidding. It’s like in one corner of the boxing ring we have Patty Jenkins taking things forward for women in film and this lady against her taking things backwards.
Nancy Meyers movies are like how in life, women are given a few options in life. 1, the lifestyle guru wannabe. 2, mommy blogger when the millennial lifestyle guru has kids. 3, stay at home mom who doesn’t blog or have opinions about anything; if she does, she should not have opinions because she must be stupid for the sake she’s a stay at home mom. 4, nurse, teacher, some stereotypical woman’s profession. 5, sex kitten selling sexuality in some respect for her career (pop singer, stripper, model, Instagram influencer, so forth). 6, pro athlete. 7, high power Wall Street type, or lawyer, think SATC ’s Miranda. 8, millennial branding herself as a high power career woman whose entire career revolves around a product/service onto what you look like (clothing, hair...), dieting because all women must be on a diet as opposed to loving themselves, or lifestyle. Number 8 women can’t have developed products about anything intellectual!
Hahaha oh you reject all this? Why there is number nine. 9, counter culture LGBT (or not) person who represents gender through having 12+ tattoos, punk hair, and a choice hyper masculinity or hyper androgyny. And 10, become a man.
It’s fine if you want to be any of those things. What’s not: the large chunk of people, myself included, who don’t fit into any box and get told, “You aren’t commercial enough to succeed in _______ career.” Or find ourselves being told we aren’t fitting in somehow in general. As if being LGBT is tied to looking tattoo-edgy. As if straightness is being a pink loving, ruffle-sleeved Instagram influencer. As if being a human being in general has to be tied to being a man or woman and if not, sorry, have a sex change. Yes. As if the only roles for women are those, and if you don’t like the way life is for women, you have to have a bunch of surgery to be a man in a total sex change, please, like life is any easier for trans men (sarcasm; it’s like twice the discrimination), or you have to have a ton of surgery to look like what a woman is supposed to look like and go the Real Housewives route. When not that, changing your appearance to reflect what’s inside with clothing, types of makeup, tattoos if that, types of hair, and so much. It’s like people forgot what average women who look like whatever women used to look like are and you have to select one of many boxes for your appearance like The Twilight Zone episode I often quote, where the girl selects face-body number 22. You can’t nowadays look like yourself, we are told. We have to be products, and if you don’t fit into one pre-set gender role or “character,” you are not worthy to exist as a woman or man.
Movies like Home Again and anything ever credited to Nancy Meyers represent all men and women in that Twilight Zone land. You have to be this weird Leave It to Beaver, perfect ideal. With Ms. Meyers’ hands now dipping into the millennial-must-market-to-them cookie jar with that last weird film about Robert DeNiro being an elderly intern and now Home Again, we’ve added onto that Leave It to Beaver ideal with every millennial cliche ever made packed into one character, and that is, into every character seen. Anne Hathaway of course had to be a Brooklynite with a clothing startup where everyone speaks with vocal fry question marks. She couldn’t have run a science lab or been a punk rock musician like a new Joan Jett type seeking a roadie. Reese Witherspoon in Home Again has to be a Pinterest worthy freelance home decorator, has to have a bimbo vocal fry socialite client. As if everyone who has ever played the society girl role in life did so to remain that way as opposed to using it for career connections. Everything is like 2018 cliches of what women should be vomited onto Home Again and yeah, once again, no successful black or any other non-white people live in the ritzy parts of LA. Have they not heard of Will Smith? They could have had a neighbor here based on him or Jamie Foxx popping by the house providing comedy in this otherwise bland-fest of a movie, since the lead character lives in a house once owned by her Oscar-winning filmmaker father. Have they not heard of Russian or any non-American film investors in Hollywood? Christoph Waltz types who could interact with the people, you know, foreign accent folks? Wow. I hope hundreds of years from now, thousands of years, future humanity doesn’t only have Home Again as its single remaining film from this time period and thinks humanity in 2017 the time of its release really was like this.
One thing Nancy Meyers holds is power. And I shall begin anew. When like first time director here Hallie Meyers-Shyer, your mother is Nancy Meyers, you have a huge advantage. You can make any movie you want because your mother (somehow) has had box office success with (how? huge $??!) very famous actors willing to participate in her work. The first thing I would do if given my two parents are well connected established filmmakers, and you know you’re about to hear “Hallie is where she is due to nepotism,” is step hundreds of miles away from the dated 90’s style romcom genre your parents live in and refuse to move away from. You could make something like a cool hipster take on friends living in an apartment, a Keanu Reeves style action movie since money is no object casting actual Keanu as your mom worked with him for Something’s Gotta Give, an outrageous comedy in the American Pie realm saying “hey, I have some edge, I’m not my mom’s humor,” animation like Wallace and Grommit she animated a bit of herself or at minimum did initial character sculpting on to say “I’m artsy and have a passion for film as a craft,” a murder mystery like Gone Girl, something ditzy yet feminist like Legally Blonde, an alien invasion movie right out of the 1970’s for the nerds, a movie about people escaping thug life for better things, I don’t know, a historical movie about the golden age of Hollywood, a musical, a Nickelodeon teen comedy like Harriet the Spy ...
No, problematic. She makes a lower grade version of her mother’s work. Hallie, I don’t know you. If I did, I’d tell you two things. Number one, I’m jealous of your Baywatch babe hair. As someone whose hair is caught between brunette and redhead land as an adult and had redhead full on as a child, my hair when blonde turns orange after two days without washing it. Your hair is amazing. Secondly, I’d say, Hallie, you can do better. You have all the keys to success in your hand. Your editing here is so well selected. You clearly can manage a set full of people and write your own material. Why don’t you choose to be your own person? And make cutting edge cinema, or at least guilty pleasure cinema, that lives within you? Using the actors your mom is friends with? Don’t you have any cool stories about your friends growing up in LA? Anything worthy of script inspo?
Number three, I would suggest, don’t work with your mom. When your mom and dad work with you and they’re filmmakers, you’re never going to escape their control over your work. A lot of people I meet at every success point don’t have your luck, Hallie. Please use your position in Hollywood wisely. Be bold.
Because Reese Witherspoon here plays a parody of her Big Little Lies character as seen through a blurry vision of a Nancy Meyers movie. “Why?” was my feeling this whole viewing process.
The film looks like big dollar signs were thrown at it and wasted. I’m sorry, filmmakers on smaller budgets and less time achieve far more. Not funny enough, artistic, crazy, not enough of enough to be remarkable.
Then again, I know a few people who only buy Nancy Meyers films for long plane rides when they don’t want any intellectual stimulating material to ruin their brains; they have VIP meetings the next day. I’m not making that up. I repeat what I am told. Home Again has a market with them.