Review | ‘Your Place or Mine’ lacks vital chemistry

Netflix’s latest original rom-com stars Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon. Although “Your Place or Mine” has a cute premise, its two stars don’t deliver.


Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 6, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Actor Ashton Kutcher in attendance of the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Parker Jones, Arts Editor

Although he may have once been a fellow Hawkeye, Ashton Kutcher’s acting abilities have seen better days — or perhaps just better film writing.

Netflix’s latest celebrity-strewn original stars Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon in the rom-com “Your Place or Mine,” which was released on the streaming platform on Feb. 10. It tells the story of two best friends, Debbie and Peter, who live opposite lives. Debbie, played by Reese Witherspoon, lives as a frantic single mom in Los Angeles with her son while Peter, played by Kutcher, lives it up as a writer and business mogul in New York City. When they swap houses for one tumultuous but impactful week, they find that embracing change might be the key to the future of their 20-year relationship.

The film opens with a fade-in of the LA skyline set to the groovy beat of Gwen Stefani’s “The Sweet Escape.” We’re introduced to main characters Debbie and Peter, both clad in painfully early-2000s outfits, in the midst of a one-night-stand. Off the bat, the dialogue was awkward, and the editing was strangely off-kilter and juvenile.

Cut to 20 years later with an unceremonious transition to present day, where Debbie and Peter remain best friends despite their fleeting romance ending decades prior. Aside from the obvious exposition dump that resulted from the split-screen Facetime call between the two, we are also introduced to Debbie’s son, Jack, a teenager with a long list of allergies and an attitude.

Although Jack, played by child actor Wesley Kimmel, wasn’t a bad presence, he mostly served as a sounding board for Peter to slowly realize his feelings for Debbie. So slowly, in fact, that almost nothing happens to further the plot for an uncomfortably large portion of the film.

If any of the jokes landed between the two main characters — or even from any of the one-dimensional side characters — the film would have been substantially more entertaining. The failed humor continues to confound me because the director, Aline Brosh McKenna, is responsible for writing legitimate comedies like “The Devil Wears Prada” and the heart-wrencher “We Bought a Zoo.”

The only remotely funny character was Debbie’s gardener Zen, played by Steve Zahn. Perhaps it’s only because I was fond of his ridiculous character in “The White Lotus,” but Zahn brought refreshing moments of awkward comedy that worked when he was on screen.

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Debbie travels to New York for a class, which is really just an excuse for her to have a “small-town girl moving to the big city” moment — despite living in LA. During her travels, Debbie meets the eccentric Minka, one of Peter’s ex-girlfriends, played by Zoe Chao. She also meets down-to-earth Theo, a book publisher played by Jesse Williams. At the advice of Minka, Debbie begins a romance with Theo to get Peter’s secret manuscript published.

Meanwhile, Peter is learning the ins-and-outs of parenting with Jack in LA with the help of one of Debbie’s friends, Alicia, played by comedian Tig Notaro. While the plot in New York is somewhat interesting, albeit cliche, I couldn’t stand the side of the story in LA. This is due in part to Kutcher’s acting.

This is Kutcher’s first rom-com role in more than 12 years — the last film of the genre he starred in was “No Strings Attached” in 2011. Although I’m not familiar with much of the media he has been in, it’s clear he hasn’t left behind the deadpan deliveries he used on “That 70s Show.” While it may have worked on the sitcom soundstage, Kutcher’s performance in “Your Place or Mine” was nothing short of awkward and abysmal.

At the end of the film, the two main characters get together in another cliche last-minute airport love confession that exemplifies the lack of chemistry between Witherspoon and Kutcher. If you are aching to see a film or TV show with these two actors, I’d recommend sticking to their classics.