Thursday, July 17, 2014

And So It Goes: Movie Review


Balancing family drama, romance, sex and comedy is a tough act.
And So It Goes is a romantic comedy for the 65+ crowd, light on the comedy and romance, and heavy on the drama. It also stars two of the most iconic actors of their generation who make the sad and tired plot more palpable than it otherwise would be. Michael Douglas plays Oren Little a successful realtor who lost his wife to cancer. Diane Keaton plays Leah a lonely widow. They both have to move on in life. 2014

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Screenplay by: Mark Andrus

Starring: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton

Michael Douglas in AND SO IT GOES. Photos courtesy of VVS Films.
The drama (if the dead spouses weren’t enough) comes in the form of a little girl. Oren’s son, a former drug addict abandoned by his father and now has a jail sentence to serve, drops his daughter off to live with Oren because she has no other family. Oren is a racist, cranky, curmudgeonly, cantankerous old man who yells at kids to get off his lawn and makes life a living hell for all his neighbours – humans and animals alike. He doesn’t make 9-year-old Sarah feel at home, who then bursts into tears at the thought that she has nobody to take care of her.

Luckily Leah is a motherly type and takes young Sarah under her wing. The problem is that Leah and Oren don’t like each other - for now. Oren is trying to get out of any responsibility but he ends up helping Leah. And this concept of helping is a new, interesting thing to him. Oren’s lack of social grace is meant to be the comedy that opens the film. It is funny enough, but it’s even funnier realizing that the 1997 film “In & Out” predicted the future so accurately. In an early scene, a fictional actor is nominated for an Academy Award along with Paul Newman for “Coot,” Clint Eastwood for “Codger,” Michael Douglas for “Primary Urges,” and Steven Seagal for “Snowball in Hell.” Considering that And So It Goes becomes a sex comedy after Oren is introduced as a coot or codger-type individual, there couldn’t have been better fictional titles used.

Diane Keaton in AND SO IT GOES. Photos courtesy of VVS Films.
Leah is struggling as a lounge singer – main reasons include that she can’t get through a song without crying and she doesn’t sing anything more recent than the 1940s. Perhaps on purpose, Leah really does strike me as Annie Hall 35 years later – still a struggling singer, still too neurotic to be in a stable relationship, but a bit more grounded.

The drama can seem a bit heavy for a romantic comedy, but with the laboured comedy, the drama ended up giving the film more emotional weight than comedic weight. Sarah was a wonderful addition – a quiet, beautiful young girl who provided some curious innocence countered against Leah and Oren’s sad experiences. The entire cast, not just our iconic actors, rounded out the minor roles into more complete characters. It really is a cute neighbourhood that And So It Goes has created, but balancing family drama with an aging sex comedy is a hard act.