A chip off the old-geezers cliches
And So It Goes
Director: Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally)
Screenplay: Mark Andrus (As Good as It Gets)
Cast: Michael Douglas (Wall Street), Diane Keaton (Annie Hall)
Runtime: 94 min.
by John DeSando
“In every heart there is a room/A sanctuary safe and strong/To heal the wounds from lovers past/Until a new one comes along.” Billy Joel
Respectfully depicting romance with sixty something’s is as challenging as getting someone other than Jack Nicholson to play the male lead. Director Rob Reiner in And So It Goes has achieved the near impossible by having Michael Douglas do better than Jack by underplaying a crusty but ultimately dear real estate agent, Oren Little, a widower selling his own 8 million dollar home in Fairfield, Connecticut.
With Diane Keaton for the love interest singing in a lounge (Frankie Valli plays the owner!) a sweet range of Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, and Jimmy van Huesen tunes, Reiner has two Oscar-winning performers who mostly underplay the attraction that takes them out of the clichéd situation of “hate then love” into a more reasonable slow growth to affection. Writer Mark Andrus, who knows of these matters from writing As Good as It Gets, in which Jack gets his reality check also from Keaton, offers subplots without the usual screaming and insults. However, make no mistake, the plot is as predictable as it gets.
Oren inherits his hitherto unknown granddaughter, Sarah (Sterling Jerins), from a prison-bound ex-junkie son, Luke (Scott Shepherd). Neighbor Leah (Keaton), finding in Sarah the granddaughter she never had, sometimes seems to question that she could have feelings for such a meathead as Oren. When Oren accurately reflects me at my most clueless, I temper my criticism of clichés.
Because Douglas himself has had major challenges with his son, Cameron--a drug addict still doing time--authenticity pours out of Douglas, who also gives a believable performance as the conflicted father/grandfather. In real life Douglas called himself a “bad father,” so I award him points for honesty then and courage for his depiction now.
Although I would have preferred more depth in depicting Oren’s relationship with Luke, Andrus and Reiner go enough into Oren’s growing love for Sarah and his appreciation for Leah. With no new story creativity, the seasoned actors make the plot combinations reasonable. Even the minor characters defy their stereotypes, headed by Frances Sternhagen as Oren’s real-estate partner with a penchant for cigarettes and sardonic repartee. Hints of the screwball comedy! She’s that good.
Reiner should be applauded for toning down the bad jokes usually accompanying Social-Security-eligible lovers. However, I don’t believe Douglas would forsake Catherine Zeta-Jones for Keaton. That’s the reality we know. And so it goes.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com