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Movie Review: “And So It Goes”

Movie Review: “And So It Goes”
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BY ALISON BAILES

With its generic title, wishy-washy script and blatant attempts at relevance by injecting raunchy gags, Rob Reiner’s latest comedy is a sad reminder of how long it’s been since he helmed “When Harry met Sally”.

I will give him props for making a movie where the lead characters are not teenagers or aliens or sentient robots. It’s refreshing to see that someone still wants to make films that feature seasoned actors dealing with mature issues. In this case, the topic is moving on with romance after the loss of a spouse. And it stars Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas so what could possible go wrong?

Let’s start with the script by Mark Andrus (“As Good as it gets”) which throws out-of-place, crude humor and sex jokes into a story about two adults learning to trust again. There is of course room for genuine comedy in such a story….but there is very little of that here.

Douglas plays Oren Little, a mean-spirited widower whose every word is uttered with contempt for his fellow man. While trying to sell the Connecticut mansion where he lived happily with his late wife, he occupies an apartment in a bucolic complex along the waterfront. His neighbors are a telegenic, demographically mixed bunch whose characters are thinly sketched and shamefully shoehorned in for “comic” relief.  Oren keeps to himself, not even paying attention to the beautiful, charming widow (Keaton) who lives right next door.

Keaton plays Diane Keaton….I mean Leah, a slightly ditzy, self-effacing woman who sings at a local supper club. I love Keaton like the next person, but I do not need to hear her stumbling through one more lounge act. “Annie Hall” was enough.  And enough with the same personality tics that she exhibited in “Something’s Gotta Give”, “Darling Companion”, “The Big Wedding”…basically all of her recent roles. Leah is an extension of her brand….complete with starched shirts and tailored suits and impeccably good hair.

That the cold-hearted, distrustful Oren will learn to love again via the open, warm Leah is a given. The catalyst is Oren’s granddaughter who is dumped on his doorstep by his estranged son. The cute moppet melts hearts as she unwittingly plays Cupid.

As the rote rom-com trudges towards its obvious happy ending, there are few high points. Oren, a racist misanthrope has a couple of good lines (one funny one about Sammy Davis Jr.), but the script doesn’t really let him go whole hog. Reiner directs with sitcom-like heavy-handedness. When Leah states “I’m being eaten alive here”, the line is preceded by a phony sounding mosquito whine. It couldn’t be more pedestrian.

Working as Leah’s agent, Oren describes the sexagenarian singer to one club-owner thus: “What she lacks in curb appeal, she makes up for with historic charm”. I suppose you could say the same about Reiner….and hope that there’s still gas in the tank for one more trip around the block.

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