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According to director Rob Reiner, the seed for his new movie, And So It Goes, was planted a few years ago at a press junket for The Bucket List. One of the reporters asked Jack Nicholson what was on his bucket list, and the actor replied, “one more great romance.” That inspired Reiner, the producers, and screenwriter Mark Andrus (As Good As It Gets) to build a picture around the idea of a late-in-life love story. With Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton cast as the sixtysomething lovers, the film aims to tap an underserved audience. Box-office prospects seem good, as long as the distributor is willing to be patient and wait for the older crowd to discover the film.
Oren Little (Douglas) is a cynical, misanthropic realtor who has not quite recovered from his wife’s death and his estrangement from his only son. While trying to sell his family home, Oren moves into an apartment complex that he owns and becomes better acquainted with Leah (Keaton), a widow who is hoping to establish a career as a lounge singer. These two irritate each other whenever they meet, but they are forced to seek a rapprochement when Oren’s ex-junkie son, who is headed off to jail, drops his daughter on Oren’s doorstep. Oren never even knew he had a granddaughter, and he is horrified at the prospect of taking responsibility for her. So he enlists Leah to act as guardian while he tries to make other plans for the child.
Anyone who has doubts about what happens next clearly doesn’t get out to see many movies. Will Oren mellow? Will the two sparring partners and the young girl overcome their differences to form a family unit? Is the Pope Catholic? Yet despite the utter predictability of the plot, the picture wins you over. It starts off clumsily but grows more engaging as it continues. This is partly because Andrus and Reiner come up with some genuinely funny bits of business (like a hilarious scene in which Oren is forced to deliver a neighbor’s baby), and also because the cast consists of a gang of smooth, seasoned pros.
Douglas has never been afraid to play abrasive, dislikable characters, and he brings an expert, sardonic edge to his putdowns of the people he encounters. Keaton is equally experienced at playing slightly ditzy but goodhearted women. The two stars click. Sterling Jerins, who plays the granddaughter, also gives the movie a lift. Reiner has directed children many times before (most memorably in Stand By Me), and he encourages them to underplay effectively. Jerins (who played Brad Pitt’s daughter in World War Z) is winning because she never begs for the audience’s tears.
Reiner has also assembled a fine supporting cast. Veteran Frances Sternhagen is bitingly funny as Oren’s no-nonsense real estate partner. Jersey boy Frankie Valli has a neat cameo as a club owner who takes a chance on Keaton’s Leah. And Reiner has even given himself a juicy role as a piano player with a bad toupee.
The movie was filmed in some scenic sections of Connecticut, though the imagery never rises above picture-postcard prettiness. Reiner and his team have come up with a sharp selection of songs for Keaton to perform. No one who sees the film will feel it breaks any new ground, but as a cinematic equivalent of comfort food, it goes down easily.
Production company: Clarius Entertainment
Cast: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Sterling Jerins, Frances Sternhagen, Andy Karl, Frankie Valli, Rob Reiner
Director: Rob Reiner
Screenwriter: Mark Andrus
Producers: Rob Reiner, Alan Greisman, Mark Damon
Executive producers: Liz Glotzer, Jared Goldman, Ron Lynch, Andrew Scheinman, Martin Shafer, Tamara Birkemoe, Remington Chase, Grant Cramer, Shaun Redick, Raymond Mansfield, Vitaly Grigoriants, Stepan Martirosyan
Director of photography: Reed Morano
Production designer: Ethan Tobman
Costume designer: Leah Katznelson
Editor: Dorian Harris
Composer: Marc Shaiman
Rated PG-13, 94 minutes
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