The conception of a movie like And So It Goes doesn’t so much start with an outline or a series of ideas. It begins with a demand no one has demanded; except for zealous producers who think they know their desired demographic.
The general public likes Michael Douglas and those same patrons are most likely to enjoy watching Diane Keaton. The brains behind And So It Goes have taken these two variables and have spawned off of that assumption to create a “nice time at the movies”.
And So It Goes doesn’t come off as something that was made to be memorable. It’s priority is to be a fleeting film that’ll have the audience smiling, lightly giggling and feeling comfortable that shelling out $11 was a good idea. Or, $22 if you’re the elderly couple the film is pandering to.
Though the featherlight flick is geared towards – ahem – ripened crowds, the film is basically open to anyone. It’s squeaky clean albeit for a few swears and intentional politically incorrect groaners, and Rob Reiner directs the movie as safely as possible. It’s the equivalent to watching a student driver parallel park for the first time. And So It Goes also has the same number of hesitant jolts and moves at the same maddeningly cautious speed.
Just because the film is easy to take in and has been made with sweet intentions doesn’t protect it though. Reiner’s film is terrible and enduring it had me questioning if film criticism is really “my bag”.
I can appreciate light fare. Even if the film isn’t for my taste, I can still recognize it as a movie that my mom – and her mom – would think is pleasantly breezy. For about the first couple of minutes, And So It Goes is a film I was liking for its opening shot gliding across a summer-laden yaught-ridden property. It was also a movie my mom could’ve been charmed with as Douglas’ presence takes hold of the audience. But then the establishing shot ends, and Douglas shoots a defecating dog with a paintball gun, and it’s all downhill from there.
Screenwriter Mark Andrus has written a story that strikes chords reminiscent to As Good as it Gets. Except Douglas’ Oren Little is less neurotic and more obscenely grouchy for a reason that sounds as if its been lifted out of the big book of “feel sorry for me” cliches.
Andrus resorts to a lot – and, I mean A LOT – of contrivances that are supposed to have the audience emotionally involved by the mere mention of keywords like “cancer” and “single father”. When Oren and Keaton’s Leah meet and learn more about each other, Andrus has a competition with himself to out-flatten his leads instead of making any of these sincere moments believable. Reiner’s autopiloted direction only adds to the tedium.
It’s a very monotonous ride to the finish as we watch Douglas and Keaton’s strained chemistry try and carry two unlikable characters. One is an annoying curmudgeon and the other is usually in hysterics. It’s probably why Reiner often falls back on scenes featuring Keaton singing. Her voice is so lovely, it almost makes us forget we’re watching a bad movie.
And So It Goes doesn’t work because of half-assed effort. It’s tender backbone is built entirely out of phoney fabric and thimble-deep resonance, while the production has nothing left to do but depend on star appeal.
And, what’s with that title? Andrus and Reiner would’ve been better off calling the movie Little Shangri-La. It’s the name of the housing development that most of this movie takes place in and has more significance than that forgettable stock title. It would’ve better signified how this small, content community live in their own little world. And, if And So It Goes believes its being true towards the audience, then this is truly a film from another planet.