Arts & Culture · Film & Television

Movie Review: ‘And So It Goes’ (or, Gordon Gekko Meets Annie Hall)

michaeldouglas_dianekeaton_andsoitgoes

In the last several years we’ve seen a small surge of movies that celebrate love — and, specifically, S-E-X — after a certain age. Some of these have been quite good (Gloria, Hope Springs, It’s Complicated), some . . . not so much (Adore).

Rob Reiner, I’m sorry. I will always love your early work, but your new film, And So It Goes, falls flatly into that second category. It falls very flat indeed.

Here’s a quick synopsis. Oren Little is a grouchy old widowed Realtor intent upon selling an overpriced mansion so he can retire. Leah (no last name that I can recall) is the weepy widowed lounge singer next door. Thanks to a flawed judicial system, a sweet almost-10-year-old is dropped into their midst. Hearts are thawed. Love is reawakened. Romance ensues.

Are you yawning yet? Even the movie’s title feels formulaic. (The film was written by the author of As Good as It Gets, and features one of the stars of Something’s Gotta Give. Do we see a pattern here?)

The movie is bland at best, more often boring (and, at times, offensive). And it’s a shame. In a box office season filled with superheroes and sci-fi disasters, a romantic comedy for a more mature audience would be a welcome change. Especially one that promises two Hollywood legends, working together for the first time. If only the material were better.

Diane Keaton, remarkably lovely and lively at 68, is treading familiar water. She’s earnest, sentimental, a little goofy. We’ve seen this before in Something’s Gotta Give and many years earlier in First Wives Club (both better movies). But the flibbertigibbet routine is getting tired; those neuroses that made Annie Hall so endearing belittle Keaton’s current, older character. If Leah is supposed to be Oren’s salvation, why make her so weak?

Meanwhile, Michael Douglas chews the scenery as a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge. He seems to be having a grand old time—emphasis on the word “old.” Born just a year earlier than Keaton, Douglas looks many years her senior. His very public battle with throat cancer (and the tabloids) has aged him considerably.

And So It Goes Official Trailer

Still, the two stars are pros, and they’re joined by a solid supporting cast. Sterling Jerins is affecting without being too sickly sweet as their young ward, Sarah. Sarcastic, chain-smoking Frances Sternhagen steals every scene she’s in. And director Reiner himself appears as Leah’s Milquetoast accompanist and would-be beau. Much is made of his bad toupée.

Along with the basic premise (and generic title), there are countless moments of predictable “been there, done that.” In fact, the level of obviousness is fairly astounding, especially from a seasoned director who created so many refreshing moments in movies past. (Will we ever forget the infamous deli scene in When Harry Met Sally? Or the countless quotable moments of Princess Bride and Spinal Tap?) The opening credits roll to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” Sarah embarks on a science experiment, documenting the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies.

“Oh wait, I get it. Oren is going to evolve. Well, that’s a relief!”

Meanwhile, Reiner and screenwriter Mark Andrus almost touch upon more serious topics. Oren, desperate to get rid of Sarah, tracks down her junkie mother and brings the child to her. A pitiful scene ensues on the sidewalk outside the woman’s boarding house. (Annie Parisse is excellent, but the scene is over in a minute.) After the estranged mother embraces her daughter, she falls over (drugs? malnutrition? plot device?). Oren and Leah sweep Sarah back into the car and take her to an amusement park. Childhood trauma forgotten. No loose ends whatsoever.

Reiner and Andrus might have trusted their audience a bit more. Since the film clearly targets midlife (and older) moviegoers, things didn’t have to be quite so neat and tidy.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t have minded a bit less profanity and potty humor. Some crude bits felt gratuitous, as though adding colorful language would make an old-fashioned romance more contemporary. Oren yells at a tenant’s child for “showing his dick.” And—in a completely farfetched and unnecessary scene—when Oren has to deliver another tenant’s baby, he peeks under her dress and announces, “There’s a head in your vagina!” The old man rises to the occasion, though, and soon he’s cradling a newborn. Just like the Grinch, we can practically see his heart growing “three sizes that day.”

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? When it comes to And So It Goes, is it worth going? Some movies are pure entertainment. Some tug your heartstrings. Some renew your faith in love. This isn’t one of them.

And So It Goes is pure predictability. It’s familiar stuff told by a team of pros who are by no means at their best. Will you enjoy at least parts of it? Most probably. Will you forget it within days? Most certainly.

Instead of spending $11 (plus popcorn), I have a suggestion. This summer marks the 25th anniversary of When Harry Met Sally. Rent it instead. A simpler romance for a simpler time, and Rob Reiner at his big 80s best. I guess there’s something to be said for leaving well enough alone.

And so it goes.

Start the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.