When I caught the trailer for Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky’s The Good House a month or so ago, I thought: “Oh neat, a new Nancy Meyers-esque romcom for older people,” until I saw the movie and discovered the first half is more like a Nicole Holofcener dramedy. But then we get to the second half and have much, much heavier material than either filmmaker for a fair comparison. The Good House is actually quite overwhelming, involving A-list film legends as the two leads, Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline, and a lot of drama about a small East Coast town.
In a quaint but affluent town called Wendover, MA, Hildy Good (Weaver) comes from a historical local family who has resided in Wendover since the 1700s. Hildy herself is an older, successful realtor, with the best reputation in town for selling property. Her two daughters, Tess (Rebecca Henderson) and Emily (Molly Brown), are successes on their own, and she’s on good terms with her ex-husband, Scott (David Rasche) – who is now living with a man.
There are only a few problems: Hildy is in denial of her long term alcoholism, she’s struggling to keep clients after a shady former colleague keeps gaining them, and she might be rekindling feelings for an old flame from her youth, Frank (Kline), who also still lives in Wendover.
The Good House made me excited to see Weaver and Kline together on screen again, following Ivan Reitman’s Dave (1993) and Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm (1997); and the new film proves they still have a comfortable chemistry with each other.
Kline in general is always a treat to see in new movies since he seems to have taken a step back from the spotlight in the past 20 years. We also get a too-brief appearance from the always enjoyable Beverly D’Angelo as Hildy’s lifelong friend, Mamie. But as a whole, I think The Good House just has too much going on and should have probably focused on one theme throughout the runtime.
There are so many subplots – including Hildy’s new charming and pretty neighbor, Rebecca (Morena Baccarin) having an affair with the town psychiatrist, Peter (Rob Delaney) – and we run the gamut from subjects like alcoholism, inflation, the real estate market, suicide, PTSD, affairs and even a special needs kid as we follow the story.
It’s not bad to have a lot of characters and arcs in one movie [see: Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975) or PT Anderson’s Magnolia (1999)]. But I personally, and probably a lot of viewers, were hoping The Good House might be more along the lines of Meyers’ Something’s Gotta Give (2003) or Holofcener’s Enough Said (2013). Something lightweight and amusing for a free night at home or on a date. Instead, we kind of got an R rated, mid-budget Lifetime flick. Nothing wrong with that sometimes, but also not exactly what I was in the mood for either.
Does ‘The Good House‘ look interesting to you? Are you more of a romcom or melodrama viewer? Let us know in the comments!
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