“Do people really let you get away with being you?”
You can’t change a tiger’s stripes. Or can you? In And So It Goes, the old tiger is named Oren Little (Michael Douglas), a cynical and sharp-tongued old man who has become even more rooted in his ways over time after the passing of his wife. He is near the end of his career as he tries to sell his mansion for $8.6 million—not a penny more or less. In the interim he stays in a fourplex with neighbors who are the recipients of his douchebaggery, one of which happens to be an similarly aged woman known as Leah (Diane Keaton),who Oren obviously has feelings for.
His simple life is turned upside down when his troubled son comes back into his life needing a favor. Committing to getting sober by turning himself in, he pleads with his father to take care of his daughter Sarah while he is locked up. Though not keen on the idea, Oren reluctantly accepts as she is essentially left on his doorstep. With the help of Leah and his granddaughter, Oren begins to reinvent himself in his twilight years, and even find some possible companionship.
With little to no marketing whatsoever, and hitting theaters with Lucy and Hercules, no one should be condemmed for not knowing this arrived. Clearly I am not the targeted demographic for this, and walking into my theater this morning confirmed this. Shocker I know. One look at the poster should let you know how And So It Goes will play out, and if that isn’t enough, surely the first 20 minutes will do so. It is a feel good romantic dramedy that will have a niche appeal to elder moviegoers, while most others will probably desire more.
Rob Reiner is at the helm here, the man with directing credits such as When Harry Met Sally, Misery, and A Few Good Men. In recent years, he appears to have found a comfort zone with this type of “elderly” genre, with The Bucket List and The Magic of Bella Isle as prime examples. This particular effort comes off as really phoned in, from the writing to the execution to the direction. There are the overly sappy emotional moments joined with accompanying musical cues, and the familiar awkward exchanges between main characters, often more miss than hit. Aesthetically, it is comparable to something you would see on Lifetime. The movie not only plays like that, it looks exactly like that. I wasn’t expecting some Tour-de-Force visually, but with a reported $30 million budget, it seems like minimal effort was placed in the technical department.
It is much more plausible that the budget went to the film’s headliners, Douglas and Keaton. As a complete and utter jerk, Douglas’ Oren is hard to pull for. He’s cold, contemptible, and even racist, whether intentionally or not, and the reason for his oft-putting personality is tied to the death of his wife. To me personally, this was a weak explanation; not saying how people should grieve, but many do no go 10 years after a loved one’s passing hating the world and spewing insults at everyone on it.
To the film’s credit, there is an effort to redeem Oren’s character, and it sort of works, even if he does turn pretty quickly. Initially though, so much of And So It Goes is predicated upon Douglas and his character’s ill-spirited comedy. It generally falls flat, because it is nothing more than Oren being an asshole to everyone. Later in the movie, the humor works somewhat better because the people around Oren are more active, giving Douglas someone to go back and forth with. It isn’t riotous laughter, but solid chuckles were had. Overall, Douglas is good if slightly over the top in a few of the film’s dramatic moments.
Diane Keaton brings a large chunk of the heart to the movie. She is solid if unspectacular, but the chemistry between her and Douglas is believable enough. At this point in her career, this appears to be Keaton’s future if starring in movies. It is not necessarily the same role as Something’s Gotta Give but the vibes are there, and she definitely isn’t stretching herself. Even the child playing Sarah is respectable, and there is an older lady in this who says the most bizarre things in the entire movie. Everyone else is very forgettable, and the role Reiner gives himself makes me believe that he really wanted to see himself on screen. It is that unneeded.
This is going to feel right at home in a few years on E! or Lifetime as it is predictable, linear, and slightly heartwarming. As it stands now though, And So It Goes is just too hard to recommend spending money on to view in theaters, particularly if you’re outside of the demographic. It is the type of film my mother would love (sorry Mom!) while I ask myself what I just did by paying to see this on the silver screen. And so it goes, this is best saved for home viewing.
Photo credits go to teaser-trailer.com& usatoday.com.
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