And So It Goes (Rob Reiner, 2014)
Rob Reiner directs a rom-com for old people. We all know how this is going to fly. A grumpy old man. Diane Keaton. A loveable grand-daughter that brings them together. And so it goes. You could hardly come up with a less inspired title but maybe that’s the point. It’s the same old, same old. No surprises here.
Oren Little (Michael Douglas) is a grumpy old fart who sells houses for a living. His wife has been dead for thirteen years and his only son, Luke (Scott Shepherd) is an ex-junkie who no longer has a place in Oren’s life. Out of the blue, Luke shows up asking his father to look after his ten-year old daughter, Sarah (Sterling Jerins) while he does a brief stint in jail. Meanwhile, Leah (Diane Keaton) is a lounge singer who lives next door to Oren, and is still grieving her late husband. When Sarah is left on Oren’s doorstep, Leah steps in to save the day, yada yada yada. And so it goes.
I can’t speak for the older audience members that this is aimed at, but surely no one wants to see Michael Douglas having sex? We don’t actually see it, mind you, just his deplorable attempts at seduction, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why Diane Keaton would jump from “You’re a pig” to “OMG I WANT YOU IN ME” (I’m paraphrasing here) in like three seconds. Even his kissing style looked horrendous. Of course we know they’re going to get together but it wasn’t at all believable that his seduction techniques would actually win over ANYONE with a pulse. The letch schtick worked wonders in Behind the Candelabra, but I can’t take him seriously as a leading man that we’re actually meant to LIKE by the end of the film.
Does Diane Keaton have to play the same character in Every. Damn. Movie? We get it! You’re old and vaguely hip! You still have sex. You have a distinct fashion sense. And so it goes. She sings here which I guess is a bit different. But unfortunately, she’s not very good at it. And the CRYING! She has repeated breakdowns, but they’re so excruciatingly caricaturish. She’s a decent actress but she overdid it a bit in this respect.
The writing by Mark Andrus here is clunky, and only occasionally funny. There were a few too many jokes about willies, and I think we’re well past visual gags of dogs humping stuff. “It’s like you and Daddy!” a kid says to his Mum, and everyone on and off screen feels mighty awkward. I’d mistakenly expected And So It Goes to be decent, but then I realised I was confusing Rob Reiner with Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give, What Women Want). Maybe it’s the female sensibility that makes her films superior. One of the worst pieces of dialogue in this is when Sarah is dumped on Oren’s doorstep and Leah, in an effort to make her feel safe, starts telling her how pretty she is. THIS IS WHY LITTLE GIRLS GROW UP THINKING THAT THEIR WORTH IS BASED ON THEIR LOOKS! Stop perpetuating this crap! This was obviously written by a man with no clue.
On the upside, the Connecticut settings are gorgeous, and Michael Douglas looks right at home in his cute pastel suits. Marc Shaiman (composer extraordinaire of Hairspray and Smash) does a sweet little score that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Frances Sternhagen provides some laughs as a wise old hag, and young Sterling Jerins is a cutie pie (how hypocritical of me). Unfortunately Rob Reiner is well past his glory days of When Harry Met Sally, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, and This is Spinal Tap. And So It Goes isn’t bad, but it doesn’t break any new ground. The oldies deserve better than this safe cliché.