Old Pros Save a Clunker

And So It Goes

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            A cranky, nasty, intolerable, real estate agent and a sweet, shy, generous hearted would-be lounge singer meet in their 60s. Thatís all you need to know about And So It Goes. From opening to closing scene, the movie is a simple question of how she will soften him. In this case that means the operative words are predictable, cloying, cute, and sentimental. Is that all bad? Not necessarily.
            What saves it is that Oren the Grump is played by Michael Douglas and Leah the Flake by Diane Keaton. Oren is a widower living temporarily in a condo he owns while he sells his mansion. Leah is the widow living next door. By night she is trying to tune up her lounge act that often ends up awash in her tears for the husband she loved and lost. Oren becomes her agent in order to toughen her up. He, it turns out, loved his lost wife deeply which explains, of course, his current nastiness.
            In comes Luke (Scott Shepherd), Orinís estranged son, who is on his way to jail for a crime he didnít commit. Lukeís daughter Sarah (Sterling Jerins), now homeless, is brought to live with grandfather Orin and will be the main ingredient in his personality reversal. Frances Sternhagen creates another of her wonderfully crusty eccentrics in Claire, dispenser of wisdom to Orin in the office.
            With this excellent cast, what then is the problem? Itís the material. The labored script is the last thing anyone would expect from writer Mark Andrus (who also wrote the winning hit As Good As It Gets) and director Rob Reiner who is responsible for so much good work. Itís a given that good comedy is devilishly hard to do, but itís hard to see these two coming up with mediocrity.
            That said, the movie still offers 90 minutes of gentle chuckles along with a hard won happy ending, and who can resist that when the summer alternative is violence and vampires? Your reward for attending is clear: the fun of watching good actors making the most of what theyíre given. Ever since Wall Street, Michael Douglas has been unafraid to be monstrous. Diane Keaton, can always use her zany self, to turn any character into a pleasure. Stir into the mix Scott Shepherd, Sterling Jerins, and Frances Sternhagen and you will enjoy a comic contrivance delivered by real pros.
            Add to that the truth that an ever growing population of elders loves to watch their own generation deal with both the humor and sadness of approaching oldest age while making the best of things as they go - witness The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet, both box office winners that continue to draw audiences. Thatís it: Douglas and Keaton together, with fine support from their colleagues, are worth the trip to the multiplex. For Rob Reiner and Mark Andrus, itís back to the drawing board where each will excel again.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : And So It Goes
Distributor : Castle Rock Entertainment
Running Time : 1:34
Word Count : 495
Rating : PG-13


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