Reviewed by Drew Ninnis.
Director: Rob Reiner
Screenplay: Mark Andrus
Runtime: 94 minutes.
Cast: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Sterling Jerins, Austin Lysy.
Plot: Professional misanthrope Oren is in the process of closing up his life and moving to Vermont or New Hampshire or somewhere (who cares, we all know he isn’t going to get there), when his estranged son arrives and leaves Oren with a granddaughter to care for while he is in prison for nine months. Oren enlists the reluctant help of neighbour Leah, who opens her life both to the child and to crotchety Oren.
Review: ‘Do people really let you get away with being you?’ Diane Keaton’s character Leah asks ornery protagonist Oren at the midpoint of this grey-haired dramedy. Audiences will have been asking themselves the same thing for the last 45 minutes of this mess of a film; slowly compiling a Nixonian enemies list in their mind of every individual, over the age of eighteen, who had a hand in producing this eye-rolling disaster.
And So It Goes follows a successful but misanthropic real estate agent played by Michael Douglas, looking to sell the family home for $8.6 million (he is clear and insistent on that point); having moved into the less luxurious apartment complex of ‘Little Shangrila’ and slowly driving his neighbours insane with his cantankerous Mr. Wilson routine. Living next door is sensitive, shy lounge singer Leah, who can’t get through a song without weeping at the memory of her husband. This Beatrice and Benedict meets the Cryptkeeper act is disrupted by the arrival of Oren’s estranged son, who is here to beg that Oren look after granddaughter Sarah while he serves nine months for a finance related crime. Oren had planned to be out of there – moving permanently to Vermont or New Hampshire or somewhere, you really won’t give a shit and neither did I – but must instead come to terms with a granddaughter he never knew he had, and the family triumvirate they form with Leah. The rest is as predictable as the passage of Halley’s comet, with the laughs being about as frequent. With the preliminaries out of the way, here’s my list:
Enemy Number 1: Mr. Rob Reiner. Of course the director of the film has to top the list, for creating an irredeemable mess of supposedly marketable elements. This film doesn’t just give you tonal whiplash, it is like a sentiment paint shaker – throwing a little bit of everything in there, ricocheting from one thing to another, and hoping the overall colour that comes out isn’t diahorrea brown. Unfortunately for the audience, that is exactly what we get; a vanity project that will sprain your extraocular muscles from all of the eye rolling you’ll have to do to get through it. The best example of this is furnished by Reiner’s appearance itself within the film; cast as Leah’s faithful piano player Artie. In one scene, Artie appears to take Leah on another sexless and anemic date in the distant hope she might take some interest in him. Sad, right? I feel sorry for this loveless schlub. But wait – Oren lies to Artie, telling him he is sleeping with Leah and ruining the date. Wait, now I feel angry! At Oren! Oh, but wait – then, after a few toupee jokes at Artie’s expense, he walks to meet Leah and slips on the Slip ‘n Slide strategically positioned in the middle of the lawn. Hilarious! Now I’m laughing. (Not really, but go with it) Oh, but wait – Leah and Artie go on the date anyway, with poor Artie soaked and broken hearted. Now I’m… confused? Oh, but then Leah’s back after an unspecified period, complaining to Oren that he ruined her date. Now I’m indignant, but a little turned on. Oh no, wait, I’m just fucking irritated. At the cheapness, the melodrama, and the general incompetence with which this has all been put together. Well done Reiner, you’re on the list. With a bullet.
Enemy Number 2: Ms. Diane Keaton. Somehow, I think we’ve all contracted a collective amnesia when it comes to Diane Keaton and mistakenly believe that she once used to do good work. But looking down her resume, this never seems to have been the case – she lucked into a few good Woody Allen films where she got to play herself, and has being doing the same tiresome one woman show since. You know the one: wander onstage and look charmingly flustered, sing a slow song or two in a weakly thin voice, slather on some aw shucks, I don’t know why I’m here humility and call it a day. Well Diane, I have no idea why you are here either. It’s like going antiquing with your mother’s air-headed friend as she tries to find the perfect accent piece for her shabby-chic apartment. Frustrating and with a vague sense of ‘shouldn’t you be doing something more fulfilling with your dotage – and also, why me?’ Except with a lot of weeping; obviously the only way you can show your grief for a lost husband. I’m sorry Diane, it’s like shooting a helpless puppy in the face, but you’re on the list. Stop doing films just because the producers have promised you that you can sing in it. We know, and you’re not even charmingly bad at it.
Enemy Number 3: Mr. Mark Andrus. I need only one piece of evidence here, although God knows this script is more incriminating than John Wayne Gacy’s patio. Leah encourages aforementioned granddaughter to raise pet caterpillars and watch them transform into butterflies; granddaughter decides to film them day by day, and the entire cast watch the final, cute cut of the film on the shore – closing out the film. As far as lazy flim metaphors go, that one’s a goddamn smoking gun. You better believe you’re on the fucking list, Andrus. You’ve been on there since Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
Enemy Number 4: Mr. Michael Douglas. This one hurts Mike, it really does, because you were sensational in Behind the Candelabra. Look, I know it’s been a bit of a dry spell and you’ve had to live off the fumes of past glories a little (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, youch), but there’s the perfect indie film out there, just around the corner, that will totally rehabilitate you back into the Hollywood A list. You’ve just got to believe in it. Sorry, but in the interests of fairness I am going to have to put you on the list.
Enemies Number 5 to 37: And company. You know what, I know you’ve got to eat. You guys weren’t lucky enough to have a hit or two in the 70’s or 80’s and spend the rest of your careers skating through on typecasting and name recognition. You’ve gotta work hard for a living, and can’t turn stuff down. Frankie Vallie – I loved you in The Sopranos as Rusty, the ‘Mayor of Munchkin Land’ who picked the wrong horse (ah, Little Carmine – ‘It’s common knowledge the guy's retarded.’ Good stuff). Frances Sternhagen – you can’t hate a beloved member of the Cheers supporting cast. Sterling Jerins, Maxwell Simkins, Sawyer Tanner Simpkins – you’re good kids, you’ve got a bright future ahead of you. Look, maybe it’s because the film finally ended and they actually let me leave the theatre– and like Nietzsche remarked, returning from sickness to health gives you a new appreciation of the world – but you guys all get a pass. God bless, go star in some great films.
In any case, I’ve indulged enough in this childish revenge fantasy – and my apologies for burdening you with it (and I omitted Jane Fonda, who I think is just in the MS Word Enemies List template by default). But trust me; you’d feel the same if someone inflicted such a titanic waste of time on you, an even bigger waste of time than rewatching Titanic. And So It Goes is a mess; a desperate last chance for enemies #1-4, who haven’t done anything good in a while, to revitalise their careers. Now that last chance is blown, hopefully we won’t have to hear from them again.
Rating: Zero stars.