Directed by: Rob Reiner
Premise: A wealthy but difficult realtor (Michael Douglas) is suddenly charged with his granddaughter (Sterling Jerins) when her father goes to prison. He appeals to his neighbor (Diane Keaton) for help.
What Works: And So It Goes is a lightweight movie and viewers who enjoy that kind of fare may find something to enjoy in this picture. This film was written by Mark Andrus, who also has credits on As Good As It Gets and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and this film’s simplified conflicts, easy solutions, and neat conclusion will appeal to viewers who liked those movies. And So It Goes benefits from some good actors. No one is challenging themselves here but when Michael Douglas turns on the charm he is still able to be an engaging screen presence. Diane Keaton has made several senior citizen romances recently such as Something’s Gotta Give, Because I Said So, and The Big Wedding. None of these movies are very good but Keaton is in familiar territory and she brings her skill and a bit of reality to the part. Also notable is Frances Sternhagen as the assistant to Douglas’ character. Crude dialogue is always more amusing if it’s spoken by the very young or the very old and Sternhagen gets many of the best lines of the picture.
What Doesn’t: And So It Goes is the latest signpost in the decline of director Rob Reiner. Reiner’s output has had its ups and downs but this is the filmmaker who helmed This is Spinal Tap, Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally …, The Princess Bride, Misery, and A Few Good Men. These are classic titles spanning a variety of genres. But more recently Reiner has been turning out schmaltzy dramas and mediocre romantic comedies like Rumor Has It …, The Bucket List, The Magic of Belle Isle, and now And So It Goes. Whether this is a result of laziness, the decline of talent, or show business forcing him into a creative corner, it is disheartening to see what’s become of Reiner’s filmmaking. And So It Goes is consistent with Reiner’s recent films not only in its overall mediocrity but also in its setting and characters. Like Rumor Has It and The Magic of Belle Isle, the movie is set in a wealthy vacation spot where upper class east coast citizens feel sorry for themselves and nothing in this movie is convincing in the slightest. The movie begins with Michael Douglas’ character living in a low rent apartment as he waits for his million dollar home to be sold. The very idea that Douglas’ character would live here is incredulous at best. His neighbor is a similarly aged lounge singer, played by Diane Keaton, and he just happens to frequent the bar in which she performs. Douglas’ character is established as a curmudgeon—he’s virtually the same character played by Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets—who has managed to annoy everyone living in his apartment complex. When his granddaughter arrives he tries to push her off on others but once he’s stuck with her Douglas’ character shares parental duties with his neighbor and the granddaughter brings the two of them together. The romance between Douglas and Keaton’s characters is nonsense. The two senior actors have no chemistry and they literally go from bickering to romance with no transition in between. In the course of the story, the moviemakers attempt an inane transformation in which a man who is characterized as a racist and a sexist and who treats everyone horribly is somehow rehabilitated because he shows kindness to his ten year old granddaughter. It’s a disingenuous and lazy attempt at sentimentality and everything about this movie is phony.
Bottom Line: And So It Goes fails at nearly everything it attempts to do: late middle age romance, a heartwarming grandfather-granddaughter relationship, and the rehabilitation of a cranky old man. It’s another step down for director Rob Reiner who, after this film, should seriously consider his career options.
Episode: #503 (August 10, 2014)