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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

And So It Goes 2014 * * 1/2 Stars

And So It GoesDirector: Rob Reiner
Year: 2014
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Sterling Jerins

Director Rob Reiner and his star of 1995's The American President (that would be Mr. Michael Douglas), reunite again for the half-baked, hackneyed comedy/drama And So It Goes. Released this past summer and rightfully swallowed up by a host of big-budgeted blockbusters, Reiner films "Goes" as if he's remaking As Good as It Gets almost twenty years later and Something's Gotta Give more than ten (And So It Goes is like a watered down combo of the movies just mentioned but with characters in it that aren't quite as affluent). The result: ninety-four loose minutes that gives the audience a few pertinent revelations but ultimately gets a mixed review from me.

Written by Mark Andrus (Life as a House, Georgia Rule, As Good As It Gets), filmed mostly in Connecticut, and featuring a Michael Douglas dirtbag who actually pursues a woman in his own age group, And So It Goes paints itself as a comedy (that's the vibe I got from the trailer I saw) but on the surface, has some really bleak moments as well. The proceedings focus on one Oren Little (Douglas). He's a cranky old-timer who sells houses and dishes out insults to almost everyone he meets. He's has minimal racist tendencies, he's a bigot, he doesn't like kids or animals, and he wants to retire by getting someone to purchase his home listed at 8.5 million dollars (only he thinks that that's the appraised value). He'll then move to Vermont so he can be moody, angry, and alone all over again. There's also other plot points going on. He has a granddaughter he never knew and now he must watch over her while his only son (a former heroin addict) goes to jail and his granddaughter's biological mom (a current heroin addict) continues to wade in a downward spiral. Thankfully, he aids his next door neighbor (Leah, a struggling lounge singer played by Diane Keaton) to help watch over said granddaughter. As things continue to move along, Oren develops a connection with Leah (one is a widow and the other is a widower) and sparks I guess, fly. That's the gist of And So It Goes and its breeziness might help you forget about how familiar and vacant it is.

Now I don't fault the performances in And So It Goes because it feels like the actors are doing what they can. I do fault the script which seems overly inconsistent. Considering that the same dude who penned As Good as It Gets wrote this screenplay, well I figured it might be just as sharp. Negatory. Andrus gives the Douglas character plenty of berated one-liners only to not have them fit the tone of the scene or the circumstance. One minute Oren is doing nice things for people and trying to come off as having a good heart. The next minute, he's telling people off just to you know, tell people off. It feels as if Mr. Little is spewing insults just for the heck of it. I mean, it's like he's reading them from cue cards or having someone whisper them in his ear right before the cameras start to roll. When he tells a co-worker at his real estate firm, "and you'll get hit by a bus if the driver does what he's paid to do", it just feels like filler. When Jack Nicholson told off his co-stars in his 1997 Oscar nominated flick, it actually felt genuine and earned. Here not so much. Again, I don't fault Douglas. I fault Andrus for not connecting the dots this time around. Then, there's the supposedly sufficient romance that brews between Little and Diane Keaton's Leah (oh come on, you knew the movie would force them to get together). With a length of just over an hour and a half, there's not enough time to really believe that these two could actually fall in love. And you know, it doesn't help that Douglas has a track record of getting with a younger woman in pretty much all of his movies. The fact that his character froths at the mouth at trying to sleep with the 68 year old Keaton, seems totally not believable.

In retrospect, with its Hallmark setting and familiar romcom cliches (this is yet another romantic comedy where the male lead happens to befriend a straying dog), And So It Goes feels like a second tier version of the type of concoction the late Nora Ephron would have made in the mid 90's. However, with a few genuine, Taster Choice moments between the cast members, there's no reason why this box office flop wouldn't suffice as a mildly entertaining, weekday rental. Its director Rob Reiner, has a legendary resume consisting of superb work (Misery, Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally, This Is Spinal Tap) intertwined with some God-awful stuff (North, The Story of Us, The Bucket List). His latest falls somewhere in between causing him to stand on neutral ground. Bottom line: And So It Goes "goes" into the $4.99 Best Buy bin probably 2-3 years from now. That's my prediction. You can take it any way you want it.

Of note: If you choose to check out And So It Goes, look for two cameos. One of them is Frankie Valli playing a restaurant owner and it's pretty good. The other is by actual director Rob Reiner and he plays a musician dating Diane Keaton's Leah. Sadly, Reiner's bit is one of the worst 3-5 minutes of screen time that I've ever seen. It's completely irrelevant and woefully underdeveloped. Also, for the sake of all that is holy, he really needed to lose that wretched, combed over toupee. Ugh.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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