And So It Goes

Save for Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, it's as bland as the title implies

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• The Giver ★★½

And So It Goes

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Directed by Rob Reiner. Starring Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Yaya Alafia, Sterling Jerins, Annie Parisse, Austin Lysy, Frances Sternhagen, Rob Reiner. Written by Mark Andrus.

Following in the tradition of recent senior citizen-friendly fare like Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated, Last Vegas, and others, And So It Goes is as bland and forgettable as its title would seem to indicate. These films are released as an “antidote” to the teen-centered flicks that litter the multiplex but, at their worst, they’re just as patronizing to their own target audience. One would hope that fans of these stars would have better taste. 

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And So It Goes gets by as far as it does due to the charisma of stars Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, who bring a genuine humanity to their (mostly) one-dimensional roles; these are committed actors, regardless of the material, and it’s a small pleasure to see them working together for the first time in their careers. 

Douglas plays Oren Little, a curmudgeonly real estate agent whose is trying to unload his $8 million estate and retire to Vermont. He doesn’t get along well with others, which includes neighbors, co-workers, and even his own estranged son; there are shades of Jack Nicholson’s character from As Good As It Gets here, but Douglas brings his own likably-grumpy star persona to the role. 

Things change for Oren when Luke (Scott Shepherd), the son he hasn’t spoken to in years, shows up at his doorstop to drop off granddaughter Sarah (Sterling Jerins); Luke is about to serve a jail term (he’s just about the nicest drug dealer you’ll ever meet) and needs grandpa to look after the kid. 

Oren isn’t very equipped to deal with his granddaughter, but that’s where friendly neighbor and lounge singer Leah (Diane Keaton) comes in. With a new child to look after and a female presence to fill in for his long-deceased wife, will Oren finally warm up a little? After the foundation is laid, you’ll know exactly where And So It Goes is going, save for one of the more awkward birth sequences in recent memory (which culminates with Douglas shouting at the newborn to start breathing).  

Keaton capably sings a number of classics, including Something to Talk About, It Could Happen to You, Blue Moon, and Cheek to Cheek, though director Rob Reiner seems gunshy to let her croon away for more than ten seconds at a time. I like how the film employs a nightclub owner (played by Frankie Valli, no less) to inform us that “she’s terrific!” The same performance could have been booed off the stage: we don’t know whether it’s good or bad until the film tells us so.

Other feel-good tunes that litter the soundtrack include Judy Collins’ Both Sides Now, The Allman Brothers’ Ramblin’ Man, and The Band’s Up on Cripple Creek. Inexplicably, Billy Joel’s And So It Goes – which one would assume the film has borrowed its title from – is absent. 

Critics typically complain about the age difference between male and female leads in films like this; it’s nice to see a more age-appropriate duo here, and Douglas and Keaton have a good comic rapport (if not much romantic chemistry). Still, it doesn’t feel completely authentic; in real-life, of course, Douglas is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones, 25 years his junior. 

It’s hard to imagine something this generic coming from writer Marc Andrus, who penned As Good As It Gets, and director Rob Reiner, who once made This is Spinal Tap, Stand By Me, and When Harry Met Sally…, but And So It Goes has precious little to recommend it. Still, while the film is fairly bad, but it’s also benign: you could do worse than spending 90 minutes in the company of Douglas & Keaton, together for the first time.


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