If the RomCom wasn’t already dead, And So It Goes would be its last gasp final death knell… and not because its Oscar winning leads are both pushing 70. Indeed, Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton (69 and 68, respectively) are game for this groan-inducing look at love and second chances, but their efforts are nullified by a nonsensical script from As Good as It Gets co-writer Mark Andrus. Director Rob Reiner may have redefined the genre with When Harry Met Sally. Sadly, that was 25 years ago. Today, he’s a tired co-conspirator in this AARP lark, incapable of recapturing the directorial magic he once exhibited many decades ago.
No matter how it is pitched — a movie for adults, a return to old-fashioned filmmaking, a chance to see two big screen vets working together — the results are routine. Not even the undeniable talents of Douglas and Keaton can save this unfunny flop. If you want to see the elderly getting frisky for the sake of a laugh, head on over to your local retirement community. The addition of a familiar familial crisis only continues to the slow march toward utter mediocrity.
Douglas plays snooty, stubborn real estate agent Oren Little. He dislikes his customers, says rude things to people his dislikes, and generally makes the vast majority of those who meet him wish they hadn’t. Basically, he’s an A-hole, but a movie A-hole, so supposedly likable and someone we are able to sympathize with, but still an A-hole. Turns out, part of the reason for the man’s mean streak may be his failures as a father. When his drug-addled son (Scott Shepherd) turns up, Parenthood style, to drop off a granddaughter (Sterling Jerins) that Oren never knew he had — Junior is headed off to prison — our lead loses it. Immediately, he seeks help from widow and aging lounge singer Leah (Keaton). Once again, as with most movies of this ilk, pre-adolescent biology provides the buffer between jerk and potential paramour while healing all wounds and repurposing antisocial personality traits.
Will Oren have his hardened heart melted? Will Leah fall for his now less chaffing charms? Will a last act complication pull on a manipulated audience’s heartstrings? As with a bear looking for a place to relieve itself in the woods, And So It Goes answers all these crappy questions with a big fat obvious “YES!” There is no conceivable question where this material is headed, the roadmaps for it having been written over several decades of predicable boy meets girl — or in this case, codger meets coot — sentiments. Still, while neither star looks or acts their age, one can’t help but feel a twinge of nostalgia over Annie Hall getting together with Gordon Gekko. (Ms. Keaton even sings a bit–that is, when she isn’t suddenly breaking out into sobs.)
The biggest problem here is predictability. We’ve been down this cinematic path before. Reiner and company simply tread no new ground. The junkie son is a red herring. The undercurrent of racism and classism is tossed aside almost immediately. Even the element of life after a certain temporal benchmark is never really broached, just used in a kind of “hey kids, get off my lawn” level of laughs. Little Sterling Jerins may be button cute, but she’s also unimportant. She’s merely a catalyst to get Oren and Leah from point A to point B.
Maybe in the hands of someone like James L. Brooks this could all work. He performed similar magic on Andrus’ previous Jack Nicholson starring OCD dramedy and got some Oscars for it. Reiner seems to have regressed. Once you could bank on his abilities both artistically and financially. And So It Goes may get your parents and grandparents back in the Cineplex, but the more modern of today’s moviegoers will find it as stiff and unpleasant as their elder’s sciatica.