Film Review: ‘And So It Goes’

'And So It Goes' Review: Michael

Rob Reiner, Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton deliver a retirement-age romance as generic as its title.

Somewhere, Billy Joel is cringing. While the title of Rob Reiner’s “And So It Goes” seems intended as take-it-on-the-chin affirmation of life’s inevitable detours and potholes, the movie itself feels like a surrender — to the kind of geriatric burlesque that increasingly seems to be the only game in town for A-list stars of Social Security age. Rivaling headliner Michael Douglas’ recent altacocker ensembler “Last Vegas” in its quantity of arthritic slapstick and tearjerking platitudes, this independently financed reunion project for the actor and his “American President” director is being positioned by upstart distrib Clarius as an alternative to the summer’s comicbook blockbusters. But “And So It Goes” will need a Viagra-sized box office miracle to come anywhere near the niche success of the recent “Parental Guidance” ($77 million) and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” ($46 million), to say nothing of Reiner’s own “The Bucket List” ($93 million).

Screenwriter Mark Andrus, who earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing James L. Brooks’ “As Good As It Gets,” has mined more than a bit of Jack Nicholson’s cantankerous curmudgeon from that film (minus the OCD) for Douglas’ Oren Little, a formerly high-flying Connecticut real-estate agent who’s turned sour and booze-swilling in the decade since losing his wife to cancer. When we first meet him, Oren is trying to unload his own palatial Fairfield estate before retiring to Vermont — a turn of events that would please no one more than the fellow tenants of the lakeside fourplex where Oren has taken up residence while waiting for the right buyer to come along. They include widowed lounge singer Leah (Diane Keaton), who chides Oren for his selfishness and insensitivity (to his fellow man, small children and even stray dogs), but whose ultimate destiny with the character is, like most things about “And So It Goes,” hopelessly obvious from the start.

Andrus and Reiner (who directs in canned, sitcom rhythms) draw on Douglas’ own troubled relationship with son Cameron to give Oren an estranged adult son (Scott Shepherd), who turns up out of the blue on the eve of a nine-month prison sentence (on trumped-up SEC charges) and asks Oren to take care of 10-year-old Sarah (Sterling Jerins), the granddaughter he didn’t know he had. And from there, you can just about set your watch by the amount of time it will take for Oren’s shriveled-up heart to enlarge by the requisite two sizes — though not before he first tries to foist the moppet off on her birth mother, an ill-advised episode that detours the film through a most unconvincing junkie underworld seemingly imported from a very special episode of “Diff’rent Strokes.”

Douglas, who did some of the best work of his career playing bottomed-out middle-aged losers in “Wonder Boys” and the tragically underseen “Solitary Man,” here serves mainly as a wind-up comic-insult machine, whenever the character isn’t being confronted by such exotic pop-culture phenomena as Facebook and “Duck Dynasty.” Keaton fares somewhat better in an equally one-dimensional role, playing a gloss on her high-strung, lovelorn neurotic from Nancy Meyers’ “Something’s Gotta Give.” Mostly, it’s a pleasure to watch the leggy, silver-haired actress onstage, gently crooning her way through a hit parade of Irving Berlin, Jimmy Van Huesen and Rodgers & Hart standards, even if the movie makes too much of a recurring gag about her inability to make it through a song without bursting into tears. (Reiner himself cameos as Keaton’s piano man, while Frankie Valli pops up as a potential employer.)

Watching “And So It Goes,” it’s hard not to imagine what a richer, more sophisticated, and finally more human affair the late Paul Mazursky — or even the Reiner of earlier days — could have made from this same basic arrangement of elements. But Mazursky wasn’t much in demand of late and neither, it seems, are grown-up relationship movies where real feeling ever risks rupturing the anodyne surface. Whenever the film feels like it might be on the verge of such a turn, it reliably opts for the cheap punch line or easy pathos. For all of its 93 minutes, you never feel anything significant is at stake for anyone — save for a paycheck.

Film Review: 'And So It Goes'

Reviewed at Jerusalem Film Festival (Galas), July 12, 2013. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 93 MIN.

Production

A Clarius Entertainment release presented in association with Foresight Unlimited and Envision Entertainment of a Castle Rock/Rob Reiner/Alan Greisman production. Produced by Reiner, Greisman, Mark Damon. Executive producers, Liz Glotzer, Jared Goldman, Ron Lynch, Andrew Scheinman, Martin Shafer, Tamara Birkemoe, Grant Cramer, Shaun Redick, Raymond Mansfield, Vitaly Grigoriants, Remington Chase, Stepan Martirosyan.

Crew

Directed by Rob Reiner. Screenplay, Mark Andrus. Camera (Deluxe color, widescreen), Reed Morano; editor, Dorian Harris; music, Marc Shaiman; music supervisor, Julia Michels; production designer, Ethan Tobman; costume designer, Leah Katznelson; sound (Dolby Digital), Jack Hutson; supervising sound editors, Lon Bender, Glynna Grimala; visual effects, E3 VFX, Sol VFX; stunt coordinator, Christopher Barnes; assistant director, Michael Pitt; casting, Laura Rosenthal.

With

Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Sterling Jerins, Frances Sternhagen, Andy Karl, Scott Shepherd, Frankie Valli, Annie Parisse, Yaya Alafia, Rob Reiner.

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  1. V. Galin says:

    I liked it. Maybe the critics, professional, aren’t old enough. Except for the unnecessary poor taste of some brief, thankfully, parts, it was, particularly as it went along, increasingly pleasant. Critics, get old if your lucky. You may then get some pleasure out of this picture.

  2. BJ says:

    I started to watch a new movie this afternoon “And So It Goes” starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. In the first five minutes Michael Douglas is showing a house to a couple who think the price is too high….Michael goes off on a rampage and starts spewing out short comments about life including this one “Rape is another form of affection”. I immediately stopped the movie and cancelled it.

    How sad that rape is another form (???) of humor and was said to get a laugh. Sadder still is that someone wrote this screenplay and this comment got in (and stayed in!). One step forward and two back…I’m running as fast as I can!

  3. Christina says:

    This movie has NO CAPTIONS for the hearing-impaired and deaf. What film has no captions today? Furthermore, Fandango and Regal Theaters sell you tickets and don’t tell you that. Shame on all of them.

  4. Sandy Hunter says:

    Your review makes me want to see this movie even more! Some of us are tired of robots, and apes, and giant comic strip characters. A fun movie will be welcome!

  5. Paul lane says:

    And I’m sure they gave Kurt Vonnegut credit for the title ?

  6. Hairy Arse says:

    This film looks terrible. Has nothing to do with the age of the cast/characters; and everything to do with story. It looks so self serving. No need here for an ensemble here. It might have worked if the Douglas character (still a great actor); was dealing with life as a stand alone character; but to have him driving around shooting paint balls at dogs (and other such cliched geezer activity); is SO F**KING STUPID. There’s no story here… just crassness (from what I can see.) Too many actors…

    A crap script for sure.

  7. GKN says:

    If true, there’s like an 80 to 90% chance the tropes and easy pathos should be blamed on the HW vetting process and execs who ‘perfected’ it since platitudes are all they dish up anywhere, and in every film – whether tear-jerking or comic. Even most of the Oscar nom films are becoming increasingly flaws and infected by them. Methinks, or mesuspects at least, that the 12 year olds who should ousted are rather in the Story Depts of most studios.

  8. skyeknightdent says:

    Twelve Producers????

    • Jane Williams says:

      I liked it ! Just a cute movie without the crap in so many of today’s films that cater to those looking for R ratings , violence, and profanity. Diane Keaton has never been anything other than appealing . The critic, is a jerk ! Probably just like that jerks that tries to please in his reviews .

  9. Gary says:

    Did writer mistake Billy Joel for Nick Lowe
    In the opening paragraph ?

  10. betun says:

    Aparently only a few actors in Hollywood are able to get parts pf their own age, and romance seems only happening to very wealthy retirees… So much to explore, so few talented writers….

  11. cadavra says:

    I don’t care. It still has to be better than all these endless CGI-explosion movies aimed at ADD teens who text all through the movies anyway.

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