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"AND SO IT GOES"
(2014) (Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Dramedy: An ornery real estate agent has his carefully planned retirement upended when his troubled son drops off his 10-year-old daughter with him for the nine months he'll be in prison.
PLOT:
Very few people like real estate agent Oren Little (MICHAEL DOUGLAS), except for fellow agent Claire (FRANCES STERNHAGEN) whose family has run the agency for years. A widower, Oren is ornery and outspoken toward nearly everyone he meets and knows, and is looking to sell his home before retiring elsewhere. In the meantime, he's moved into a four-plex he owns that's named "Little Shangri-La" where three other tenants live as close friends. That includes widowed lounge singer Leah (DIANE KEATON) who has a lovely voice while accompanied by pianist Artie (ROB REINER), but never can get through a song without breaking into tears.

That's not the emotion that Oren experiences when his former drug addict son, Luke (SCOTT SHEPHERD), stops by and informs Oren that he's dropping off his 10-year-old daughter, Sarah (STERLING JERINS), to stay with her grandfather for the next nine months while Luke is in prison. Oren refuses the arrangement and thus is infuriated when Luke drops off the granddaughter he's never met, thus forcing Leah to take in the girl while Oren decides what he's going to do. As he eventually starts to accept Sarah as his own flesh and blood, he also starts to have feelings for Leah, developments that not only start to change his demeanor, but possibly also his plans.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
For those of us who grew up in a pre home video world where private film cameras were few and far between, the lives of any adults before we met them were a mystery. Sure, there were occasional stories about things that happened to them as kids or young adults, but we otherwise had no way of knowing what caused certain family members of neighbors to act and behave the way that they did.

We certainly didn't know about how much military service affected the men, or how past relationships influenced the women. They were only seen "as is," with no knowledge of what ultimately shaped their defining characteristic or what they were like before that occurred. Of course, the grumpy, mean or downright scary ones don't often elicit much curiosity and/or compassion about any past circumstance or event, meaning they have no chance of healing unless some new outside event interrupts their long-set patterns.

Such is the case in "And So It Goes" where Michael Douglas play a real estate agent whose misanthropic demeanor and caustic remarks means he has few friends outside of old work acquaintance (Frances Sternhagen) who can easily trade such barbs with him without any feather ruffling. He's been good at what he does, but has just one last house to sell -- his own -- before moving away into his retirement. He doesn't care about people and is only looking out for himself, a self defense mechanism that's warped away from societal norms and is based on a past event that's revealed later in Mark Andrus' script.

As with most any story featuring an old curmudgeon, we automatically know that some sort of softening or change shall be afoot. Here, it arrives in the form of Oren Little's 10-year-old granddaughter (Sterling Jerins) who he's never met and is the offspring of his troubled adult son (Scott Shepherd) who's headed to prison for nine months, doesn't know the whereabouts of the girl's mother, and thus needs someone to watch after young Sarah.

Oren passes off that responsibility to his lounge singer neighbor (Diane Keaton) in the small apartment complex he owns and where she's one of his tenants. She's taken aback but not entirely surprised by his actions. Yet, there's little doubt she'll get him to warm up to the girl and that some sort of romance will develop between the neighbors.

I've always enjoyed watching Douglas on screen and he seems to have a knack for playing characters who aren't exactly huggable and kissable yet are fun to watch. He easily brings that quality to his character here, but the script gives him few chances to shine above and beyond the rote material. The same holds true for Keaton who's played her sort of character countless times and similarly can't run very far with it. Their chemistry together -- starting antagonistically and progressing from there -- is decent but unremarkable.

That very quality pretty much sums up the entire film. While it's nice to see a Hollywood pic that actually aims to entertain the 50+ crowd, it's yet another mediocre offering from Reiner who once was on quite a hot streak of excellence -- "Stand By Me," "The Princess Bride," "When Harry Met Sally," Misery," "A Few Good Men" and "The American President" over a span of a decade -- but hasn't been able to replicate that over the past twenty or so years.

Just like its title that seems blasť and not striving to be much, "And So It Goes" indeed goes about its business in a low-key and instantly forgettable fashion. It rates as a 4 out of 10.




Reviewed June 26, 2014 / Posted July 25, 2014


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