As I stated in my review of Somebody I Used to Know, I skipped the theaters this weekend so as to avoid Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2022). I did so under the assumption that the latter would be more overtly pornographic than the former. You know what they say about assumptions, right? Granted, I will probably (hopefully) never know the specific content of Magic Mike’s Last Dance, or either of its predecessors, but I wonder how it stacks up to the questionable material in Somebody I Used to Know. Continuing with the theme of judging a book, or movie more accurately, by its cover, ahem, title, I originally chose Somebody I Used to Know over Your Place or Mine in my quest to replace the cinema with a new release on streaming. I wish I had looked more closely, but that is the convenience of these streaming services: you can correct such a mistake as described above simply by turning on the television.
One of the reasons I wish I had opted for Your Place or Mine is because it co-stars Reese Witherspoon. She plays Debbie Dunn and when we first meet her in 2003, she is hooking up with Peter Coleman (Ashton Kutcher), the other co-star. As we fade from the scene, we can hear that it is a little awkward. Still, it is twenty years later and they are in bed talking to each other. The thing is that they are not in the same bed. They are not even in the same state, or coast for that matter. He ditched the writing career he had been mumbling about before to become a highly successful image consultant for corporations in New York City. She stayed where they met in Los Angeles, getting married, then divorced, and raising her son Jack (Wesley Kimmel) as a single parent. In the intervening years, Debbie and Peter have become best friends, talking every day on the phone. It has also been some time since they had seen each other, and she is excited to be coming to New York to enroll in a week-long course that will help her career. He is anticipating the visit, too, until he has a bad day. The first domino to fall is his girlfriend of six months breaking up with him when he cannot commit to anything further than their current level of dating. He also has a rough last meeting with a client after a project is over, with them wanting him to stay despite his refusals. This last bit is actually convenient timing for Debbie. Her usual babysitter who was to look after Jack while she is gone bailed at the last minute. To help out, Peter unilaterally decides that he will fly across the country to watch Jack. Though Peter has no child caring skills, she agrees to the plan and heads to New York. It is in swapping places (hence the title, as it sort of turns out) that they find that perhaps they do not tell each other everything as they believe. It starts with small things. When Peter gets to Debbie’s house after picking Jack up from school, Peter finds the bevvy of post-it notes with specific instructions as to what he is to do with Jack at practically every moment of the day. For her part, Debbie soon meets Minka (Zoë Chao). Minka is a former girlfriend of Peter’s of the six-month variety (there is a pattern), and she comes to Peter’s apartment when she hears of his most recent break-up and is ready for, um . . . stuff. Debbie is mostly unfazed by this, but Peter had never told her about Minka. At any rate, Debbie and Minka form an instant bond, and she offers to go out on the town with her when she can get away from her studies. Back in Los Angeles, the bond that is forming is between Jack and Peter begins on the basis of Peter increasingly not following Debbie’s rules. It does not start off well as Peter treats Jack like a client in trying to make-over the kid’s life. After a rough go of this involving a hockey game with people Jack used to be friends with, Peter shifts to letting Jack try-out for the hockey team. This is something he has dreamed of doing, but Debbie never permitted it fearing for his health and safety. As this develops, Debbie and Peter begin speaking less on the phone. She unfazed over this, initially, because she is preoccupied, and not completely with passing her course. During an evening at a bar with Minka, Debbie is introduced to Theo Martin (Jesse Williams). Actually, Theo needs no introduction for her since she knows him as a famous publisher. They hit it off immediately, and one of the ways in which she continues to come up with excuses to see him is to pitch a novel to him. The book is not hers, but rather had been written by Peter. Minka reveals its existence and Debbie recognizes its quality upon reading it. She is also not telling Peter about this, claiming that she is a small-time editor herself, and that she is only passing along a manuscript. Theo is interested, in the book and her. After they spend the night together, he asks if they can meet for lunch on the last day of her being in New York. He starts by saying that he has arranged an interview for her at another publisher. The reason for this being at another company and not his is because he is hoping that they can have a serious relationship. As he is relating his desires, she gets a phone call from Peter. At a hockey try out, Jack had sustained an injury, which is a heckuva way for a mother to find out that her kid is doing something he is not supposed to do. Understandably, she is furious. She had told Theo that she is in love with somebody else, that person being Peter (though this part is omitted), but she bottles up her righteous anger. She happens to get to the airport in Los Angeles at the same time as Peter is leaving. They have it out in the concourse, and essentially they live happily after from that point on.
I want to say something more about Your Place or Mine, but I am unsure of which direction to go. I could tell you about how great it is to see Reese Witherspoon, though I have talked about her in other posts. What is a little more noteworthy is Ashton Kutcher. If you have not noticed, there have been few movies in which he has appeared in the last roughly ten years. Indeed, I count four films, including this one, since 2014. That makes for a whole lot of nothing between 2014 and 2022. I am not a Kutcher apologist or follower. I did see him on an episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls in which he talked about getting his personal life in order in recent years. I am fine with that, and I think a number of celebrities could take a cue from this kind of behavior. I guess this is a long way of saying: go Ashton.
Speaking of him, or more specifically his character in Your Place or Mine, one of his running themes is that he does not believe he is a good person. Much of this stems from that night he spent with Debbie all those years ago. He later explains to their mutual friend, Alicia (Tig Notaro), that he had not pursued Debbie back then because he felt like she would reject him. Ever since that time, he gotten to the point in every relationship when they all ask him what is next for them. When he cannot answer that question, they break up with him. It takes twenty years, and this whole movie, for him to realize that his feelings for Debbie extend beyond that six-month cut off. For this Catholic, the problems really stem from the pre-marital sex. Sex is a wonderful thing, in its proper context. What our modern society misses about this act is how it is meant to be a part of God’s work of creation. There is a weight to it that needs the covenant of marriage to be properly handled. If you do not believe in God, then you probably think I am crazy for what I am saying. And yet, I speak from experience. The film tells me that what I am saying has validity. You can see the pain caused to Theo when Debbie tells him, the day after they sleep together, that she is in love with somebody else. Had that not happened, would it have not made that situation easier?
On the whole, Your Place or Mine is pretty standard as these movies go. It is certainly the least raunchy of the two new releases I saw this weekend. That, along with its PG-13 rating, means that it rides that line. Otherwise, I would say it is perfectly acceptable date-night fare.