Redhead Review: And So It Goes
Rob Reiner’s latest film, And So It Goes, stars Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton as bickering-turned-flirting neighbors. Oren Little, played by Douglas, is a bitter, aloof, rude man still grieving over the death of his beloved wife. Leah (Keaton) is a quirky, caring woman who sort of wants to be a lounge singer (but cries over her own dead husband in the middle of most songs). When Oren’s estranged son, a former drug addict, shows up wishing to pass off his soon-to-be ten-year-old daughter, Sarah, on Oren for a few months while he goes to jail, Oren more or less passes her off on Leah.
This film is annoyingly sentimental and skirts around so many tiny but significant details (like where is Sarah’s suitcase when her father drops her off, and if the prison sentence is 6 months, won’t she be missing school? And why the sudden character shifts that transpire with very little development or discernable reason, making certain actions and behavioral changes seem totally unmotivated?) What is more annoying to me though is that despite the at times stupid script and a trite story that is told lazily, I somehow didn’t hate this movie. It is a mindlessly entertaining melodramatic dramedy that weakly, if at all, pulls on the heartstrings— this film is no better and not too much worse than what it appears to be.
So, I didn’t hate the film (probably due to its strong performances and the way sentimentality can be guiltily but giddily hypnotic, like a bad TV movie you can’t stop watching). But, I can’t help but ramble mainly about the aspects of the film that irritated me. First, the characters don’t seem human— they initially appear to us as familiar character types, and then their arcs are nonexistent. Rather, the characters seem to end up at some developed state without us really seeing what has gotten them there— the film’s journey is clumsy and messy, but addictive. For instance, the first day Sarah and Oren actually spend together, they seem to get along just fine and Oren is rather nurturing and likable to her. It makes sense for him to eventually be this way, even though that too would seem overly conventional. But up until this scene, he was nothing more than a grumpy old man trying to get rid of Sarah in any way he could (by keeping her at Leah’s place or even by finding Sarah’s own estranged mother).
Similarly, another shift that seemed odd was the romance between Leah and Oren. Keaton and Douglas have chemistry, for sure, but their characters go from hating each other to tolerating each other to romancing each other within a matter of nanoseconds and with very little order or organization, and with every scene, I wondered which dynamic we were going to be seeing.
The film tries to be this feel-good saga where the despicable protagonist finds love and happiness at the end, all through having to take care of this adorable granddaughter that he had no idea existed, thereby also reconnecting with his son and finding closure. It is predictable and typical and oh-so-smarmy and yet it wasn’t the worst cinematic abomination I’ve ever seen. And So It Goes is, above all else, an intensely forgettable film, one whose offenses certainly should outweigh any of its strengths. As I said, it is precisely the kind of film that is mildly enjoyable in a half-heartedly guilty-pleasure way. It only ever skims the surface but taps into our emotions just enough to keep us engaged even if just on that very surface level. Even if we don’t care all that deeply about these paper doll people and the paper-thin tale they weave, we seem to care just enough to endure the 94 minute runtime with a shrug, a sigh or two, and maybe the slightest of smiles, depending perhaps on how wilfully you checked your brain at the door.
Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton
Rating: 3 out of 5 caterpillars
Sara majors in Film Studies and Media & Communication at Muhlenberg College. Her favorite genre is horror but she loves learning, writing and talking about all kinds of movies and all forms of entertainment. She has interned with Film Forum and Tribeca Film, both in her native NYC where she hopes to find work in criticism, marketing, distribution, or festival programming post-grad. Her blog and associated Twitter were created with the intention of being more involved and aware of happenings in the film and television industries, as well as to practice writing about pop culture in an academic but friendly and funny way.