Dr. Donna Copeland’s
MICHAEL DOUGLAS DIANE KEATON
And So It Goes
This was a much better film when it was called As Good As it Gets. Yes, I think the AARP crowd deserves movies aimed directly at their demographic, but no, I don’t think you have to sacrifice quality to provide that. And So it Goes is the latest mishap from the once crowd pleasing director Rob Reiner (last time he worked with Douglas was on The American President). Reiner has always been one of the few directors to make movies for his own demographic; sadly, they are rarely good (The Story of Us, The Bucket List). Douglas seems an ill fit for playing a guy who would fall in love with someone his own age (especially with the characters he has played in the past and being married to Catherine Zeta Jones), while Keaton is just playing the same woman she has been playing the last 20 years.
A bitter real estate agent, pining his time until he sells his 8 million dollar home, enjoys making the residents of the Shang-ri-La apartment complex he owns miserable. Reality sets in for Oren Little (Douglas) when his former drug addicted son shows up on the doorstep with 9-year-old Sarah. In one second Oren becomes a grandfather and must figure out a way to take care of this bright eyed little girl. In comes the next door neighbor, amateur crooner Leah (Keaton), who missed out on motherhood and takes the opportunity to nurture this abandoned girl. The love she exudes has an effect over Oren, who realizes that maybe the death of his loving wife isn’t the end of his, and there is more fun to be had.
After recently being impressed with the vocal stylings of Kiera Knightley in Begin Again, Oscar winner Diane Keaton reminds us that not all actresses can sing. It’s probably the most unflattering singing from an actor I have endured in a while. Keaton, dressed in her usual black and white and accompanied by her contract dictating scarves and her own wardrobe, cries every five minutes and certainly drives the notion home to my generation that she is a one note actor. However, Leah does have one particularly memorable moment where she explains why she could never have meaningless sex, even at her current age, and it’s a beautiful ode to the sanctity of intimacy.
Unfortunately, the entire script is predictable and lacks any development and maturity from the characters. They nearly turn on a dime, and venture off into that happily ever after scenario. Douglas and Keaton have little to no spark. Perhaps neither were never truly great actors of their generations, but seeing them here, like this, in a film that can only be described as a Lifetime film at best, just makes me feel sorry for them. True, there are not enough diverse rolls in Hollywood for aging stars, but there must be something better than this sappy, feel good, waste of time. Eh, and so it goes…
Final Thought – Another sad misfire for director Reiner and the entire cast.
By: Dustin Chase
This is a film for those who favor light fare—nothing too unusual, and plot and characters pretty much as expected. Michael Douglas as Oren Little is an old curmudgeon who is grieving for his dead wife and is completely self-centered. Diane Keaton is one of his neighbors, Leah, a role that has become standard for her. She is grieving as well and bursts into tears easily, dithering around whenever she gets nervous. It’s very easy for her to be a patsy, just the type of person Oren is accustomed to exploiting.
Oren is selling his mansion, planning to move to Vermont where it is quiet, but in the meantime he lives in an apartment complex named Shangri La(?). Go figure. He is uniformly hated by the neighbors and his colleagues in realty for his ill-tempered and rude behavior, so it is no surprise that when his estranged son Kyle (Austin Lysy) appears and asks him to take care of the daughter Oren does not know he has he refuses outright. Kyle must be gone for several months to fulfill a duty, but despite the dire need, Oren rejects him and his request out of hand. Nevertheless, his son knows him so well, he decides to return later with his daughter Sarah and her suitcase in tow, knowing his father will not be able to refuse.
Leah is standing outside when this happens, and steps up to the plate to show compassion for the tearful child Sarah, and Oren would be quite happy to shunt the responsibility off to her; however, she lets him know she has her limits. He will try various solutions to his many problems, and some of these turn out to be a little bit funny and a little bit tender, but there will be few surprises.
In addition to a ho-hum script by Mark Andrus, the characterizations of the two main figures is bothersome. Oren Little is not really believable in the mix of characteristics he is supposed to have—someone who has always had trouble parenting his son, someone with no apparent compassion for animals or children—yet he offers to help his neighbor Leah, whom he has been verbally sparring with for days, in her career. Yes, we’re supposed to believe that Leah and the child Sarah have a humanizing effect on him, but it is too drastic a change to be plausible.
Secondly, why make Leah a singer when Diane Keaton the actress is not a singer? There are plenty of good singers who could have been cast in that role, which otherwise is a character Keaton has played over and over again.
I was grateful for Sterling Jerins, the talented young actress who plays Sarah; when she is on screen, the story comes alive—not just with her cheery demeanor, but also during a moving time when she encounters someone from her past in an awkward, tearful scene.
Conclusion: Light fare resembling a pretty well made sit-com.
By Donna R. Copeland