Castle Rock Entertainment presents Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton in And So It Goes and they are slow to start warming up to in the film itself. It could well be that the rich, old character that Douglas plays is unpleasant enough it puts the audience off enough that even kindly old Ms. Keaton can’t summon up any warmth.
It is only when young actress Sterling Jerins (Conjuring, World War Z) becomes part of the onscreen mix that things begin to pick up. However this talented little lady is not given too much to do at first which keeps the “feel good factor” that the filmmakers are aiming for delayed that little bit longer.
Director Rob Reiner, who has a cameo as the piano player with romantic intentions in mind for Diane Keaton’s character and who, incidentally, has the world’s worst toupee, seems to have stumbled a bit in this film. It does have to be said that his fumble of the dramatic rom-com is mainly at the start of the film.
To be fair to the director who brought Stand by Me, This is Spinal Tap and When Harry Met Sally to an adoring public, it is not all his fault, or even the fault of the material. Although this theme of senior citizen “twilight-years” love is not new, it is still entertaining. The plot itself could even be considered a pale imitation of On Golden Pond sans Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn and the issue of dementia. The problem is not Reiner, but his cast. They may do the best they can but they are an uneasy fit and it shows.
And So It Goes with Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton is admittedly slow to start and the romance between the two feels forced and awkward. Most of that can be laid at Douglas’s door. Not because of a lack of acting chops, but because he has been totally miscast in this film. When Michael was younger he was adept at romantic comedy, just look at Romancing the Stone. Now that he is older, regardless of skill level, he does not feel right for this role.
The story is that Oren Little (Douglas) is still trying to sell his overpriced mansion while living in an apartment in a building he owns and rents out to other people. One of these co-renters is Leah (Diane Keaton). Both Oren and Leah have lost their spouses to death by disease and both are still mourning in their own way.
Oren has a son whose childhood was a mix of misbehaviour and drug taking. Now his son is grown and estranged from his father. At the start of the film, he drops by to ask his dad to look after his daughter, a girl that Oren had no idea existed. Enter Sarah, (Sterling Jerins) as the “adorable” grandchild designed to melt Little’s heart.
The problem with this film is that the role of Oren begs to be filled by a Jack Lemmon or a Walter Matthau both of whom are gone and not likely to be replaced. Not even the massive acting chops of Michael Douglas can make a difference when they have been miscast.
Diane Keaton did well with what she was given, but she could have done so much more. One of the best female roles went to that veteran character actress Frances Sternhagen. This talented and unforgettable woman has been in the business since 1951 and when she is on screen with Douglas, he might as well not be there.
In terms of being “given things to do” Diane Keaton sings in the film, it is not known whether she is actually doing this or not. If so, then she does a wonderful job. Keaton’s singing cannot be mentioned without talking about the Frankie Valli cameo. It is short, fun and probably there because of the Clint Eastwood film Jersey Boys. Regardless of why Frankie shows up, it was nice to see him.
The last half of the film does shift into a higher gear. Mainly because Douglas is more believable as the slightly improved curmudgeonly Oren Little. There are a few moments that ensure an emotional response from the audience, aka a few tears and a lump in the throat of even the most manly of men.
Interestingly enough, the overall demographic of the the theatre audience was miles past the normal target group. The average age seemed to be around the mid-sixties. This age group apparently found the film both hilarious and touching. They also applauded at the end. Whether this was down to the touching delivery of all concerned, or because this was a film that featured their age group, was not clear.
Unfortunately this emotional “payoff” at the end is too long coming in a film that is so slow to start. Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton in And So It Goes cannot overcome the problem of Douglas’ miscasting and the lack of chemistry between the two “romantic” leads of the film. Having said all that, it is a Rob Reiner film so there are amusing bits in the movie. This is just not his usual winning result. And So It Goes opens countrywide in cinemas on July 25, 2014. Prepare to wait for the pay off.
By Michael Smith
Regal Cinemas Red Rock Stadium 16